Aryna Sabalenka thrashed compatriot Victoria Azarenka in just over an hour to win the Ostrava Open in emphatic fashion on Sunday. 

The first WTA Tour final between two players from Belarus did not provide the contest many had hoped for, Sabalenka prevailing 6-2 6-2.

Azarenka had to fight hard to hold serve in the opening game but was broken in the fifth, triggering a run from Sabalenka that saw her storm through to take the first set.

The third seed continued to dominate in the next, easing into a 4-1 advantage against an opponent who appeared to be struggling physically. 

A medical timeout was required for Azarenka and while she grabbed a break back to briefly close the deficit, Sabalenka went on to seal victory after 68 minutes on court. 

It is a seventh WTA title for the 22-year-old, this latest success sealed with an ace. She had already triumphed once in 2020, having won in Doha in February.

Victoria Azarenka revealed the secret of her career resurgence as she set up an all-Belarusian final against Aryna Sabalenka at the Ostrava Open.

A 6-1 6-3 victory against Greek player Maria Sakkari carried Azarenka through to Sunday's title match, with Sabalenka later landing a 6-4 6-4 win over American Jennifer Brady.

The remarkable rebirth of Azarenka as a serious force to be reckoned with on the WTA Tour has coincided with tennis emerging from lockdown in August.

After landing the Western and Southern Open title in New York in August, Azarenka followed up with a run to the US Open final, and now she has reached the 40th final of her career.

The former world number one had been considering retirement before this recent run, having not won a tournament since 2016, but Azarenka has brilliantly recaptured the form that took her to a pair of grand slam titles, both in Australia, earlier in her career.

She was dominant throughout against Sakkari, a player who looks to be on the brink of achieving great things herself. Sakkari beat top seed Elena Svitolina in the second round but could not live with Azarenka's power and precision.

Azarenka said afterwards that she had developed "strong assurance in my ability", explaining: "What I'm really happy with is that I play every point like it's my last point, and I think that makes a difference for my opponent."

She added, quoted on the WTA website: "I think I'm making it very hard for them to earn anything on the court, and that's what I’m going to continue to do."

Chasing a 22nd WTA title on Sunday, the 31-year-old Azarenka will be facing a compatriot she has only played against twice on tour before, both times at the US Open.

Sabalenka, nine years her junior, beat Azarenka in a three-set first-round battle at Flushing Meadows last year, but it was a different story at the 2020 grand slam.

That second-round match emphatically went the way of Azarenka, a 6-1 6-3 winner, with fifth seed Sabalenka an early victim as Azarenka marched through the draw.

Victoria Azarenka moved a step closer to a second post-lockdown WTA title as she brushed aside Elise Mertens to reach the Ostrava Open semi-finals.

The Belarusian seized on four of six break-point opportunities to win 6-4 6-1, following up her victory over the same opponent at the same stage of the US Open in September.

In New York, Mertens surprisingly won only one game as Azarenka produced a performance that overwhelmed the 24-year-old, and although Friday's clash was a more close-fought affair in the first set, eventually it became a rout.

Azarenka said afterwards: "I feel she adjusted her game a bit from New York, so it took me a bit of time to adapt to that."

She added, on the WTA website: "Today I didn't expect the same result, but I did feel like I was really in control after I adjusted my game - I felt I made it very difficult for her to earn points."

Former world number one Azarenka finished runner-up to Naomi Osaka at the US Open but took the title at the Western and Southern Open event, also held at Flushing Meadows, in the run-up to the slam.

The WTA season only resumed in August, having been halted in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Greek player Maria Sakkari, who took a set off Serena Williams at the US Open, scored an impressive 3-6 6-3 6-1 victory over Tunisian Ons Jabeur and will face Azarenka next.

American Jennifer Brady, another who made her mark in New York by reaching a maiden grand slam semi-final, dug deep to see off impressive Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in three sets.

Kudermetova, who beat second seed Karolina Pliskova in the second round this week, could not build on a strong start to the quarter-final tussle as she exited 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1.

Brady will face Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday's last-four matches after she defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0 4-6 6-0.

Maria Sakkari claimed the scalp of top seed Elina Svitolina to reach the quarter-finals of the Ostrava Open on Wednesday.

Sakkari beat world number five Svitolina 6-3 6-3 to progress to the last eight of a WTA Premier event for the third time this season.

Unseeded Greek Sakkari struck 32 winners and returned superbly, winning all but eight of 29 points on Svitolina's second serve.

The 23rd-ranked Sakkari will face either wildcard Jelana Ostapenko or Ons Jabeur for a place in the semi-finals.

Ostapenko knocked out fifth seed Petra Martic, the 2017 French Open champion easing to a 6-3 6-1 victory.

Martic had won their previous two meetings, but the Croatian was beaten in just 57 minutes at the indoor hard-court event. 

Anett Kontaveit was another seed to fall, Sara Sorribes Tormo reaching a maiden Premier-level quarter-final at the expense of the Estonian with a 6-1 6-4 success.

Victoria Azarenka is also two wins away from the final, coming from a set down to see off Barbora Krejcikova 2-6 6-2 6-1, and will now face Karolina Muchova or Elise Mertens, who got past Amanda Anisimova in straight sets.

A furious Sara Errani aimed verbal volleys at Kiki Bertens at the French Open on Wednesday, accusing the fifth seed of exaggerating an injury in their mammoth second-round clash.

A visibly upset Bertens left the court in a wheelchair after suffering with cramps in a three-hour, 11-minute tussle with Errani that the Dutchwoman won 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 9-7.

However, Errani, who failed to serve out the match on three different occasions, claimed her opponent was merely putting on an act.

"I don't like when somebody is joking on you," Errani told reporters.

"She played an amazing match, but I don't like the situation.

"One hour she has an injury, then she runs. I don't like that. She goes out of the court on the chair, and now she's in the locker perfect, in the restaurant. I don't like these things."

World number eight Bertens, who faces Katerina Siniakova next, shrugged off the criticism, though.

"She can say whatever she feels like. Maybe I should take some more acting classes or should pursue a career in that," Bertens said.

"I'm not sure what she's thinking, but, no, I didn't feel really good on court, to be honest."

AZARENKA EXITS

On the same day that Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament due to an Achilles injury, Victoria Azarenka – who beat the American in the US Open semi-finals – also bowed out with a 6-2 6-2 loss to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

None of the four women who made the final four in New York are still in the tournament in France, with champion Naomi Osaka having withdrawn before it started and Jennifer Brady eliminated in the first round.

However, Azarenka did not blame the quick turnaround and change of surface for her loss.

"Today was not the case of a turnaround, was not the case of the court, was not the case of anything else," she said.

"This is a lesson for me to learn. I don't think about what happened in New York."

HALEP OVERCOMES COMPATRIOT

Top seed Simona Halep beat fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-4 to seal her passage to the third round.

"It's never easy to play against a Romanian and against Irina, we played so many times; it's never easy," Halep admitted.

"I managed well in the end and I think I played the right game when I needed to."

GAUFF'S RACE IS RUN

Despite beating ninth seed Johanna Konta in the first round, 16-year-old Coco Gauff fell at the next hurdle.

The American went a set up against Italian Martina Trevisan only to lose 4-6 6-2 7-5.

Meanwhile, seeds Elina Svitolina, Elise Mertens and Amanda Anisimova all progressed.

Birthday girl Simona Halep described her French Open first-round victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo as "the perfect present".

Fresh from winning the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome, Halep arrived in Paris as favourite and top seed for the final grand slam of the year.

And she marked her 29th birthday with a 6-4 6-0 triumph under the new roof on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

"The perfect present was that I won, of course," said the 2018 champion. "It was a really special day playing on Roland Garros on my birthday, so it's going to be pretty unique maybe forever.

"I cannot celebrate much, because I have to stay in the room, so I will have a bottle of water.

"I will speak with my very close ones and loved ones. Just that. Nothing special. After the tournament, I will [celebrate properly]."

While Halep, who now faces compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu, had the luxury of an enclosed arena the cold weather outside caused issues for others on a day that saw Venus Williams make an early exit.

AZA-BRRR-ENKA

It was a chilly day in the French capital and few people were more bothered by the conditions than Victoria Azarenka, who donned a jacket and leggings for her match with Danka Kovinic. 

The former world number one triumphed 6-1 6-2 but she left the court three games into the first set claiming it was "too cold", a consequence of the tournament taking place four months later than planned.

"I think my opponent first of all slipped in the third game, so I think she was also feeling a little bit uncomfortable," said Azarenka.

"And I just asked like when my grip is getting wet in between points, are we going to still continue to play?

"And then [the official] told me that if I'm willing to wait a little bit longer while the drizzle stops, because the rain was supposed to increase, and I said absolutely not because I don't see a point of sitting on the court when it's eight degrees.

"I at the same time asked my opponent if she wants to wait on the court or she wants to go off court, and she said she doesn't want to wait on the court.

"So, I'm not going to waste my time sitting there and getting cold."

KONTA DUMPED OUT BY GAUFF

Coco Gauff dumped out ninth seed Johanna Konta as the 16-year-old produced a fine display.

Gauff came through in straight sets, beating the Briton 6-3 6-3 to secure a second-round showdown with qualifier Martina Trevisan.

It constitutes a shock premature departure for Konta, who reached the semi-finals in 2019.

VENUS DONE WITH 2020

Venus Williams declaring she is "done" with 2020 is a statement with which many will be able to identify.

The American veteran, a 2002 finalist at this slam, was beaten 6-4 6-4 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who will now face Azarenka.

Asked if she had any plays to play again this year, the 40-year-old replied: "I'm going home from here. I'm done. If there is somewhere to play, I won't be there."

One player who will have at least one more match this year is Eugenie Bouchard, who overcame Anna Kalinskaya 6-4 6-4.

US Open champion Dominic Thiem was dealt a difficult hand in an exciting men's French Open draw, while Serena Williams was handed a tough route in the women's competition.

Thiem finally ended his wait for a first major title in New York earlier this month, beating Alexander Zverev in a five-set epic after losing his prior three finals.

Two of those came in the most recent two French Open finals against Rafael Nadal, although there will be no repeat this year.

Thiem is in the bottom half of the draw along with Nadal, who starts against Egor Gerasimov, and has a tricky schedule right from the outset.

The Austrian has grand slam winner Marin Cilic in the first round, and Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka – two other former major champions – are potential fourth-round opponents as they begin against one another in an intriguing clash.

Nadal could have to tackle John Isner in the last 16, while Zverev is also in the bottom half of the draw.

World number one Novak Djokovic has Mikael Ymer up first and could meet Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarter-finals, having been defaulted from the US Open when facing the Spaniard – his only defeat of the year.

Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are in the top half, too.

Meanwhile, Williams, still bidding for a record-equalling 24th major title, is set to meet Victoria Azarenka in round four.

Azarenka came from a set down to beat Williams in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows before she was defeated in the championship match by Naomi Osaka, who is absent in France.

Defending champion Ash Barty and 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu are also missing, while world number 10 Belinda Bencic withdrew shortly before the draw.

But Williams still faces a difficult task just to reach the final.

A potential victory over Azarenka in the last 16 could see the 38-year-old paired with third seed Elina Svitolina in the quarters, while top seed, world number two and 2018 champion Simona Halep is also in the same half.

Williams starts against Kristie Ahn, who she defeated in her US Open opener.

Kiki Bertens is in the same quarter as Halep, which sees arguably the pick of the first-round matches as Coco Gauff takes on Johanna Konta, last year's semi-finalist.

Marketa Vondrousova, beaten by Barty in the 2019 final, is a potential fourth-round opponent for Halep.

Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova are in the same section as former champion Jelena Ostapenko and Germany's Angelique Kerber, who could complete a career Grand Slam.

Garbine Muguruza, another previous winner, is in Sofia Kenin's quarter with Aryna Sabalenka.

US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka lost a three-set thriller to Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep. 

Muguruza beat her fellow former world number one 3-6 6-3 6-4 after two hours and 19 minutes, having been one point away from falling 5-3 down in an entertaining decider at Foro Italico. 

The 2016 French Open winner managed to hold her serve on that occasion, then broke to love in the next game before going on to seal the match at the third attempt. 

"I think it was a tough match. I knew it was going to be a tough match. She's a good player, she's playing good, she's with a lot of confidence," said Muguruza. 

"I knew it was going to be a tough battle. I was ready for it. I stood behind her and was waiting for my opportunities. She was playing great at the beginning. She took the first set. I kept myself together and said, 'Okay, let's start another battle in the second set'."

Next up for Muguruza is two-time Rome finalist Halep, who saw Yulia Putintseva retire from their quarter-final meeting due to a lower back injury. 

After dropping her serve to fall 6-2 2-0 down to the world number two in 47 minutes, Putintseva, who played back-to-back three-set matches in the previous two rounds, pulled out of the match. 

Halep said of Muguruza: "Every time I played well against her, [I was] as much as possible aggressive. If I play my best game and if I feel great physically on court, I have a big chance to win the match. But every time is different, because she's playing so hard. 

"You don't really know what to expect. It's tough every time. So I don't plan for a specific match, because you never know on court."

Two-time Internazionali d'Italia champion Elina Svitolina was comprehensively beaten 6-3 6-0 by Marketa Vondrousova, who was the runner-up at last year's French Open. 

Standing between Vondrousova and her first final appearance since Roland Garros last year is reigning champion Karolina Pliskova. 

Second seed Pliskova overcame Elise Mertens 6-3 3-6 6-0 as she continued to impress after initially struggling when the WTA Tour returned in August.

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova cruised into the last eight at the Internazionali d'Italia on Friday, while Garbine Muguruza impressed again.

Tournament favourite Halep eventually looked comfortable in her 7-5 6-4 against Dayana Yastremska, but the Romanian had to fight back from a break down in the opening set as she was put on the back foot.

Halep slid 3-0 down in the opener, but she produced an admirable response when winning 12 of the following 13 points as she levelled up.

Another break from 5-5 allowed Halep to take charge, and from there she rarely looked in trouble, remaining in the ascendancy early in the second as she went 3-0 up, ultimately seeing out the win professionally despite Yastremska giving herself a chance with a break of her own.

"It was not easy against her because you don't really have the rhythm. She hits it very strong and it's tough to return her balls," Halep said, highlighting the need to get her head straight after the early wobble.

"After I lost the first three games, I just had to focus a little bit better and stop giving her the balls that she likes.

"I tried to change it up a little bit, make her move, [hit shots] a little bit high. I think during the match I found some solutions that were good to win.

"Big picture, I think it was a great match and gives me confidence that even in these conditions with a big hitter that I could win in two sets."

Awaiting Halep is a meeting with Yulia Putintseva, who fought back from a set down against fellow Russia-born Kazakh Elena Rybakina to edge an absorbing contest 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

Second seed and defending champion Pliskova came through fairly comfortably against Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-3, with the Czech next going up against Elise Mertens, who saw off Danka Kovinic in similarly routine fashion with a 6-4 6-4 victory.

Another tantalising quarter-final will be contested between Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza. Spaniard Muguruza caught the eye as she beat seventh seed Johanna Konta 6-4 6-1, not dropping serve once against her British opponent.

Azarenka, who incredibly crushed Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin without dropping a game on Thursday, should be fresh for the quarter-final as her last-16 opponent Daria Kasatkina retired due to an ankle injury at 6-6 in the first set of their contest.

Victoria Azarenka produced a memorable performance as she destroyed Sofia Kenin 6-0 6-0 at the Internazionali d'Italia on Thursday.

Azarenka, beaten in the US Open final less than a week ago, has transitioned to the clay courts in impressive fashion after beating Venus Williams and now, more impressively, Kenin.

The Australian Open champion had no answer to Azarenka's ruthlessness and near-perfection out on court in Rome, with the Belarusian claiming victory in just an hour and one minute.

Azarenka faced no break points in the entire match and made only one unforced error as she emphatically took the first set against a player who was her US Open doubles partner.

Kenin improved in the second set, forcing some long games – particularly the second, which was at deuce on five different occasions.

But Azarenka – who faces Russian Daria Kasatkina in the last 16 – simply had too much for the American and cruised to a sensational victory over the third seed,

"I think my consistency was the key to the scoreline," Azarenka told reporters. "I feel like I played really smart tennis today: I was able to use a lot of court; I was able to use a lot of different pace.

"So, I'm very happy with that. But the key was definitely being able to maintain the level that I started with."

She added, according to the WTA Tour website: "I was really more focused on what I can do today on the court, than on what she does well. So, I think that was the difference, I was able to insist on my level and insist on my pace."

Earlier, Garbine Muguruza managed to outlast American sensation Coco Gauff 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3 in an absorbing contest.

Gauff, 16, appeared to be in control of the decider after an early break of serve.

But three double faults in the following game gifted Spaniard Muguruza an instant break in return, giving her the initiative to go on and seal victory.

Johanna Konta saw off Irina-Camelia Begu in fine fashion, the seventh-seeded Briton emerging 6-0 6-4, but Kiki Bertens and Petra Martic were not so impressive.

Bertens, seeded fifth, fell 6-4 6-4 to Polona Hercog, while eighth seed Martic succumbed to Yulia Putintseva in a gruelling three-hour contest, the latter eventually winning 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-4.

Marketa Vondrousova and Svetlana Kuznetsova were among the other victors on the day.

US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka saw off Venus Williams at the Internazionali d'Italia to book a meeting against Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

Azarenka, who beat Serena Williams in the Flushing Meadows semi-finals, won 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 against the American's older sister to earn an enticing meeting with Australian Open champion Kenin in the last 32.

In a battle lasting just over two hours, Azarenka had to save a set point before claiming what proved to be a pivotal tie-break, the win avenging a defeat to Venus Williams in the first round of the Top Seed Open last month.

"[A] different surface was definitely challenging, but I feel like I adapted very well," Azarenka said after winning the last of the first-round matches in Rome.

"I knew it wasn't going to be easy, I knew I wasn't going to play a perfect game, but it was all about trying to find the right intention of what to do. I think it worked out.

"I felt that this was a great match for me to figure it out, the first match on clay. Venus played a really good match, it was good to see her also adapting to clay, changing and trying different shots. 

"It is going to be an interesting match [against Kenin] because Sonya's been my doubles partner for the last two tournaments and we know each other quite well.

"She's a great player, she's obviously been playing exceptional this year. I feel like I'm playing all these players I've lost to before, so I'm kind of given an opportunity to redeem myself!"

Number one seed Simona Halep won 6-3 6-4 against Jasmine Paolini and will next face Dayana Yastremska, who emerged triumphant from a three-set battle against Amanda Anisimova.

Second seed and defending champion Karolina Pliskova beat fellow Czech Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-3, with Elina Svitolina and Elise Mertens also among those moving into the last 16.

There was no joy for sixth seed Belinda Bencic, though, as she was emphatically knocked out by qualifier Danka Kovinic, who earned a 6-3 6-1 win.

Naomi Osaka simply wanted to avoid an embarrassing loss before recovering to beat Victoria Azarenka in the US Open final.

Osaka claimed her third grand slam title and second in New York, overcoming Azarenka 1-6 6-3 6-3 in the decider on Saturday.

The Japanese star found herself behind a set and a break before fighting back.

Osaka, 22, said her aim was to avoid a thrashing after making such a poor start.

"I think in the first set I was so nervous, I wasn't moving my feet," she told a news conference.

"I felt like I was not playing – not that I expect myself to play 100 per cent, but it would be nice if I could even play, like, 70 per cent. But, yeah, I just felt like I was too much in my own head.

"Then in the second set, of course I was down early, which really didn't help me out. I just thought to myself to be positive, don't lose 6-1 6-0, hopefully give her a slight run for her money.

"Yeah, I just sort of ran with that line of thinking."

Osaka wore a face mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy shot and killed by police in 2014.

It was the seventh different name worn by Osaka at the US Open as she drew attention to police brutality and racism.

Asked if she would be willing to meet families of victims at the end of the season, Osaka said: "Yeah, I mean, definitely. I feel like for me I learn more through experiences.

"Everyone sort of thinks they know, or I actually don't want to know how they're feeling or how they felt during the process.

"For me, I feel like sharing stories and hearing people's experiences is very valuable."

Victoria Azarenka hopes French Open organisers will put players first "rather than making money".

The rescheduled grand slam is set to start on September 27 amid the coronavirus pandemic, with fans to be in attendance.

Although it will be a limited number of spectators, it comes as COVID-19 cases surge again in France.

After losing the US Open final to Naomi Osaka on Saturday, Azarenka urged officials to protect players.

"I'm kind of excited for that, to play on clay. I haven't had the best relationship with clay seasons for years. Last year I kind of had a lot of fun. So I'm looking forward to just slide a little more," she told a news conference.

"It will be very interesting for me to see how French Open is going to handle the situation with the bubble life, with the COVID now.

"I hope they will do a good job of protecting the players first rather than making money. So we'll see."

Azarenka fell short of a third grand slam title and first since 2013, losing 1-6 6-3 6-3 to Osaka in what was her fifth major final.

While accepting the defeat hurt, the Belarusian said she would move on quickly.

"I'm not disappointed. I'm not necessarily disappointed. It's just painful. It's painful to lose. That is what it is. It was close. I was close. But it didn't go my way," Azarenka said.

"Am I going to think about it too long? Not at all. I said it. I win or I lose, I'm not going to change. I'm not going to sit here and be miserable. This was an experience that was just an experience that didn't go my way.

"I had a great two weeks. I enjoyed myself. I did everything I could today. Could I have played better? I think I could. But I left everything I could on the court today. She won the match. All the credit to Naomi. She's a champion.

"As I said, I thought third time is a charm, but I got to try again. That's what I'm going to do."

Naomi Osaka landed her second US Open title in three years – and unlike last time there was unmitigated joy for the Japanese player.

Her 2018 triumph was largely overshadowed by Serena Williams' outbursts towards umpire Carlos Ramos, which led to a hostile crowd atmosphere, even during the trophy ceremony.

Osaka hid her face behind a visor, having been reduced to tears, and it was about as unpleasant as any first grand slam victory experience could possibly be.

On that occasion, Osaka struggled to find a smile. Sensing the crowd were baying for a Williams win, she said then: "I know everyone was cheering for her and I'm sorry it had to end like this."

But this time Osaka had her moment, albeit in unusual circumstances, with no spectators inside Arthur Ashe Stadium but for a scattering of officials, players, coaches and loved ones.na

She was able to celebrate with her team, with nothing to detract from the moment.

The satisfaction was obvious, with the 22-year-old securing her third slam, lying down on the court and taking in the moment after fending off Victoria Azarenka 1-6 6-3 6-3.

Osaka would have raised laughter from a crowd with her description of that moment, explaining why she did not fall immediately to the floor after sealing the win but carefully chose her spot.

"Because I always see everyone collapse after match point," she said, asked what was going through her mind. "But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely."

She explained how she was able to turn around the match. Doing so made Osaka the first player since Arantxa Sanchez Vicario against Steffi Graf at the 1994 US Open to drop the opening set yet take the women's singles title.

"I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose this in under an hour so I had to try as hard as I can and stop having a really bad attitude," Osaka said.

There was clear bonhomie between the two finalists, with Azarenka telling Osaka: "I'm very happy for you and I hope we can meet in some more finals again."

In response, Osaka said: "I actually don't want to play you in more finals. I didn't really enjoy that! It was a really tough match for me."

She came onto the court wearing a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy who was shot dead by police in Cleveland, Ohio, six years ago.

Osaka has worn similar masks, with a different name each time, throughout the tournament, in her effort to encourage the conversation in the United States and beyond about racial inequality and police brutality.

Asked what message she was trying to get across, Osaka told the on-court interviewer: "What was the message that you got? [That] was more of the question.

"The point is to make people start talking.

"I've been inside of the bubble so I'm not really sure what's really going on in the outside world. All I can tell is what's going on on social media and I feel like the more retweets it gets – that's so lame, but you know, the more people talk about it."

Naomi Osaka landed the third grand slam title of her career and second at the US Open as she produced a brilliant fightback to deny Victoria Azarenka.

The Japanese player won 1-6 6-3 6-3 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, becoming only the fifth player in the Open Era to win her first three finals at the majors.

It was a staggering effort, not least because she lost the first set in just 27 minutes, with Azarenka carrying on where she left off against Serena Williams in the semi-finals.

At that stage, the final at Flushing Meadows looked set to be disappointingly one-sided and brief, and that sense was only accentuated when Azarenka broke immediately in the second set too.

By then there had already been one racket fling from Osaka, the 22-year-old who might just become the dominant player of her generation but found herself in a huff.

Suddenly, however, the match flipped. Osaka began to land her big shots, and the result was that she won seven of the next eight games.

Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, lost back-to-back US Open finals to Williams in 2012 and 2013, and she dearly did not want to experience that feeling again.

When Osaka broke to lead 3-1 in the decider, it seemed Azarenka was destined to experience that unwanted hat-trick.

It came as a surprise when Osaka then allowed Azarenka three break points in the next game, but somehow she avoided dropping serve.

In a match of twists, there were more to come, firstly with Azarenka scoring that much-needed break back in Osaka's next service game, only to then lose her own serve.

Osaka, 5-3 up, serving for the match, just about held her nerve as Azarenka kept the pressure on.

Eventually, Azarenka netted a backhand, and Osaka shrieked in delight, touched rackets with Azarenka and lay down on the court.

She had every right to savour the moment. Champion in 2018, that night was overshadowed for many, even perhaps for Osaka, by Williams, on her way to defeat, rowing with chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

This time it was Osaka's moment and hers alone. A wide smile across her face told its own story.

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