Defending champion Naomi Osaka overwhelmed tennis prodigy Coco Gauff to advance to the US Open fourth round by winning the most buzzed-about match of the tournament in front of a captivated Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday night, giving a lesson in sportsmanship and compassion after the dominant win.
The world No.1 Osaka comfortably progressed in 65 minutes, as Gauff got just 45% of her first serves in, while winning just 42% of points on her first serve and 30% on her second. The Japanese recorded six breaks against the young American phenomenon to win 6-3 6-0.
The match was short and one-sided for the most part, but it was a heart-warming embrace at the net that defined this first career meeting of young tennis stars — the 15-year-old Gauff broke in tears during the handshake, while her more experienced opponent, still only 21 herself, showed compassion and started crying as well.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2019
Gauff, who came to prominence by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon, commented on the emotional moment:
She was crying, she won. I was crying. Everybody was crying! I didn’t know why she was crying. I was like, ‘you won the match!’
The Floridian added:
For me a definition of an athlete is someone who treats you as their worst enemy on the court but after they treat you like you’re their best friend. That’s what she did.
Osaka’s gesture scored her loads of extra points in the tennis community, including among her colleagues:
Most importantly, Billie Jean King, the founder of the WTA, announced the start of a new era in the sport:
The world No.1 Osaka, who added the Australian Open title to her maiden Grand Slam title run at Flushing Meadows last year, will face Belinda Bencic in the fourth round, as the Swiss seed No.13 advanced when Anett Kontaveit of Estonia withdrew with an acute viral illness.