Heart of gold - GulfToday

Naomi Osaka may have lost, but she has won many hearts


Naomi Osaka

It was unfortunate to see the reigning world champion Naomi Osaka leave the US Open so early in the tournament (“Brilliant Bencic stuns Osaka; Wawrinka up as Djokovic quits,” Sept. 2, Gulf Today).

As defending champion the 21-year-old was expected to go deep into the event but the Bencic tie was not to be an easy round considering that Bencic had a superior head-to-head record going into the tournament. The straight set victory at Flushing Meadows on Monday made it three win out of three meeting for the 2019 Dubai Tennis championship winner this season.

The Japanese superstar will lose her number one ranking because of the loss, but who can take the number one ranking she enjoys in the hearts of people after her humane gesture a day earlier, when she consoled her tearful opponent Coco Gauff on court?

It was much more than a sterling example of sportsmanship. While Osaka overpowered 15-year-old Gauff 6-3, 6-0 in 65 minutes, she refused to be overpowered by her victory. She shared every bit of her young opponent’s pain and even shared tears. So much so that it took Gauff by surprise. “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!,” said Gauff.

And then Osaka went a step ahead and invited Gauff to speak to the crowd in a post-match interview. Isn’t that something? But that is so much in sync with Osaka’s tryst with tennis especially after last year’s final at Arthur Ashe Stadium where she was in tears much before she could lift the coveted trophy.

Her greatest moment was shrouded in regret as a hostile crowd booed. They were not chastising the new winner but more at the injustice visited upon her opponent Serena Williams. But Osaka cried and she did it again this year. Osaka is a champion with a heart of gold.

Matilda Tavares
By email

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