Naomi Osaka, 21, consoled a teary-eyed Cori “Coco” Gauff after dominating the 15-year-old in the third round of their 2019 US Open match at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka is the reigning US Open women’s singles champion, and though her form has stuttered on clay and grass, she is showing a determination to defend her title at Flushing Meadows, beating the 15-year-old American 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday.
It shows Osaka as a true, hard court specialist, saving her best performances for the hard court season, skilfully swatting Gauff aside in the opening games, winning on her own serve then breaking Gauff to take an early 2-0 lead in the first set.
After being broken herself midway through the set, Osaka rallied, played disciplined tennis, and took the first set with ease. The second set proved even easier, as Osaka bageled Gauff, who failed to win a single game.
After the match, Osaka and Gauff talked at the net. Gauff said she’d be unable to do a post-match interview but Osaka talked her into one, got on the microphone, and told Gauff’s box that “you guys raised an incredible person.”
“I saw that she was kind of tearing up a little,” Osaka later said, according to The Guardian . “Then it reminded me how young she was. I was just thinking, like, it would be nice for her to address the people that came and watched her play.
“They were cheering for her. Yeah, I mean, for me, it was just something that was, I don’t know, instinctive I guess.”
Gauff said: “I think she really showed sportsmanship tonight. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it. I’m glad that I was able to experience that moment. I’m glad the crowd was kind of helping me and her. She was crying, she won. I was crying. Everybody was crying.”
Osaka takes a 17-match unbeaten streak on a hardcourt into the next round, a Round of 16 clash against Belinda Bencic on Monday.