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"Definitely a new era" - Much praise for Australian Open winner Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka won the Australian Open 2021 with an impressive final - and is the woman who the tour is currently based on.

by Jörg Allmeroth
last edit: Feb 21, 2021, 02:49 pm

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Naomi Osaka
© Getty Images
Naomi Osaka

The scene that shaped two Grand Slam weeks in Melbourne took place in the Rod Laver Arena before the final evening. It was the scene that indicated the shift in power in global women's tennis was to be confirmed and even solidified at this Australian Open in 2021 - Serena Williams was involved in that historic moment when she left Center Court sad and wistful after her semi-final defeat and put my hand on her heart in parting. And then there was the winner of that memorable match, Japan's Naomi Osaka, who, laden with symbols, was simply still there when Williams left the arena.

The queen of bygone days was defeated by the new queen in the here and now. From the 23-year-old Osaka, who 52 hours later with her 6: 4, 6: 3 final victory over Jennifer Brady (USA) confidently and grippingly confirmed that another era, another era has dawned in this sport. Williams' clock has expired, probably also the chance to at least set the eternal Grand Slam record with 24 titles. And Osaka is now the determining force, the fixed star in the Grand Slam cosmos, the player who has to be beaten regularly when the big, precious trophies are awarded. "This is now the Osaka era," said old master Martina Navratilova, "the rest of the circuit has to align with it." Even if Osaka is only number 2 in the world rankings in black and white, also because of the special corona regulations in the calculation , she clearly takes pole position.

Becker on Osaka: "Star for the whole world with charisma and charisma"

With Osaka's meanwhile impressive Grand Slam record - she won four of the last eight majors, won each of her finals - a certain arbitrariness and ambiguity in women's tennis also ends. "This is clearly a new era," said observer Boris Becker on record and added how uncomfortable he had felt over the last few years in women's tennis: "Too many different winners, no clear hierarchy." But now, according to Becker, " is a real star there, a star for the whole world with charisma and charisma. ”In purely sporting terms, Osaka, trained by Belgian Wim Fissette, shone at this unusual Grand Slam with her intuitively brilliant game design, with power and precision - and also with cool nerve power in challenging situations. Against the extremely formidable Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, she even fended off a match point in the round of 16 and probably the best tournament match ever.

What distinguishes Osaka, just like the greats and greatest of the past, is the quality of almost always delivering the best performance in the heated tournament phase. “I love these crucial games. They bring the strongest out of me, ”says the 23-year-old, who was often underestimated by tennis fans for a long time. Because the Japanese always seemed a bit mysterious, unfathomable and even deprived of the world off the courts, they did not trust her to have the necessary hardness and determination at work. A former ace like ex-number one Chris Evert has been amazed more than once, "how undervalued Naomi still is: despite all her successes, despite her ingenious qualities."

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Naomi Osaka raises her voice

After her first major successes, Osaka had to struggle with the sudden prominence and the captivating interest in her person. When she surprisingly dismissed her first top coach Sascha Bajin, she even plunged into the crisis in the massive shit storm of her own fans. But this setback was not sustainable, Osaka grew with the test of getting back into sport. And more and more she spoke up on topics that had nothing to do with fore and backhand, volley or stop. After the scandal surrounding Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by police officers, Osaka joined the nationwide protests in the United States last summer, and even refused to make it to the semi-finals at the tournament in Cincinnati. “Just because I often appear calm doesn't mean I have no influence. Just because I'm humble doesn't mean I'm not confident, ”she said on the sidelines of her successful title run at the 2020 US Open.

On the Center Court, she now exudes a striking sense of security and conviction, four Grand Slam victories in the first four finals speak for themselves. “She is someone who feels comfortable on the big stage. More than ever, ”says the Belgian Kim Clijsters, who has won four Grand Slam titles as the only active player alongside the Williams sisters Serena and Venus and now also Osaka. The total number Osaka will end up at one day also depends on how much she can overcome her slight aversion to sand and an amazing lawn allergy. At the French Open and Wimbledon, the Japanese never got past the third round - a sharp contrast to the title double back in New York and Melbourne. “I still have a lot of time. In fact, "smiled Osaka on Saturday when she was asked about this imbalance," I will find my way there too. I feel like it has just started for me. "

It is actually just beginning, the Naomi Osaka era.

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by Jörg Allmeroth

Sunday
Feb 21, 2021, 03:55 pm
last edit: Feb 21, 2021, 02:49 pm