Naomi Osaka Has Been Ruthless And Efficient At The U.S. Open

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There was one close one—a fourth-round victory over Aryna Sabalenka that took her all three sets—but beyond that, the U.S. Open has been one continuous bloodbath for Naomi Osaka, the 20-year-old No. 20 seed. These are massacres on the order of Rafael Nadal carving up Roland Garros. Three times, she’s devoured her opponent in less than an hour of play. Three times she’s delivered bagel sets, and two times breadsticks. Taken holistically, these have been comically lopsided contests:

  • Today in her quarterfinal, Osaka won 59 of 87 points, or 68 percent.
  • In her third-round match, Osaka won 51 of 68 points, or 75 percent.
  • In her second-round match, Osaks won 54 of 86 points, or 63 percent.
  • In her first-round match, Osaka won 64 of 111 points, or 58 percent.

Even factoring in that close fourth-round match where she won just 87 of 168 points, across the tournament, Osaka has won 60 percent of all points played. That’s not a normal mark, even for an elite player. Tennis is a game won by much smaller margins. (For reference, thus far in 2018, world No. 1 Simona Halep has won 60 percent of her service points and 50 percent of her return points. Assuming she plays about the same number of each, Halep has won about 55 percent of total points this season.)

Here’s what these routs tend to look like:

Here’s how good Osaka’s looked when tested:

Osaka had a seed-killing title run at Indian Wells and carried that momentum to beat her idol Serena Williams in the first round of Miami the following week. Then she played an uneven season on clay and grass and had a frankly terrible summer hardcourt run. But in New York, at the year’s last major, everything appears to be coming together again. She boasts the pace to hit through these slow courts and the chokingly humid air above them.


Osaka, who trains in Florida, also has the right background for this particular U.S. Open. This late in a tournament beset by hideously wet tennis, she can claim a significant edge: “I actually don’t think it’s that hot,” she said on court after burying Lesia Tsurenko today, 6-1, 6-1.