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U.S. Open between Serena Williams & Naomi Osaka turned into

Naomi Osaka won her first Grand Slam title derailing Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion, in a dramatic Women’s Singles 2018 US Open final 6-2, 6-4, on Saturday September 8, 2018 – an extraordinary achievement for a 20-year-old playing in her first Grand Slam final in what felt like a road game from the start, which turned out to be one of the most controversial Grand Slam finals in recent history, all the more striking observation of this match was the contrast between Osaka’s cool and Williams’s combustibility.

Osaka became the first tennis player representing Japan to win a Grand Slam singles tournament and reached a career-high world ranking of No. 7. Osaka, born in Japan, moved to the United States at age 3, grew up admiring and emulating Williams, even did a report on her in third grade that she was very proud of; was the most dominant player in the world over the last 14 days reaching the final at the 50th anniversary of the US Open. Osaka’s matches were straight-set, open-and-shut, surgical efficient wins.

However, this US Women Open Final descended into Chaos as an intense, gripping final between a great champion and a great young talent turned ugly. Internal fire can become fuel for something like this when defeat is looming in a floodlit match on Ashe Stadium.

  • Williams in the second game of the second set was issued a warning by umpire Carlos Ramos, a first code violation for coaching when her coach Patrick Mouratoglou twice made a hand gesture suggesting she go to net, something he later conceded doing. According to the Grand Slam rulebook, “players shall not receive coaching during a match. Communications of any kind, audible or visible, between a player and a coach may be construed as coaching.”
  • Williams losing momentary lead in a game where she double-faulted twice was too much to handle and after losing serve smashed her racquet into the ground in frustration. Williams was issued another code violation as according to the rulebook, racquet abuse is a code violation. It was the combination of the code violation for coaching and the racket abuse charge that surmounted to the loss of the point called by Ramos, which allowed Osaka to start serving the sixth game at 15-0.
  • Williams after losing her serve to Osaka in the seventh game, admonished Ramos again during the changeover, “You owe me an apology. You stole a point from me,” and finally went on to call Ramos – the chair umpire: a “sexist”, “thief” and “liar”, which were considered verbal abuse, the apparent trigger for the third violation. She was issued another code violation for verbal abuse after arguing at length with the umpire about the application of the first code violation, and this third violation brought the penalty of one full game at the most crucial juncture of the match, which awarded the eighth game to Osaka, and found Williams serving the ninth game.
  • Williams at that point of time called for referee Brian Earley, who came to the court with Grand Slam supervisor Donna Kelso.
  • Williams pleaded her case through tears to the two of them, insisting she is always treated unfairly at this event and that men have called umpires much worse and not been penalized, but there was no budge in the score.
  • US Open released a statement after the match that said, in part: “The chair umpire’s decision was final and not reviewable by the Tournament Referee or the Grand Slam Supervisor who were called to the court at that time.”
  • Williams went on to win the 9th game at love before Osaka won her first Grand Slam title on a second match point in the 10th

Carlos Ramos, a gold-badge chair umpire, is known mostly for being a stringent umpire of men and women, a stickler for rules. If any of the violations had happened singularly, he may have been inclined to look more softly upon the infractions. That they happened on the biggest stage of both the players’ careers, and in quick succession, was unfortunate.

Umpire Carlos Ramos has taken the brunt of the scrutiny, as far as the sport’s governing bodies are concerned and was not publicly presented with a gift, as is custom during the post-match trophy ceremony. WTA accused him of officiating men and women differently, and the ITF sedately applauded him for correct conduct.

Serena Williams could have kept her composure. Williams’s Coach Patrick Mouratoglou and, above all, Williams herself bear responsibility for the way an intense, gripping final between a great champion and a great young talent turned ugly.

Naomi Osaka had to deal with all of the above after one of the finest matches ever played by a youngster in her position. Osaka held her nerve to serve out the match and halt Williams, who was contesting her second final, is as many majors, from tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 women’s singles titles. Osaka absorbed everything that Williams and the chaotic circumstances could hurl at her and somehow stayed in the zone and said, “I felt like I shouldn’t let myself be overcome by nerves or anything”. “And I should just really focus on playing tennis because that’s what’s gotten me to this point.”

WTA issued a statement later Saturday evening, “Congratulations to both Naomi and Serena for reaching the final at the 50th anniversary of the US Open and to Naomi for winning her first Grand Slam title. They both played superb tennis throughout the US Open.”

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