Sprint to the defence and the out of the system promotion of Asian tennis may have spawned an unlikely star. The Guyanese-born Canadian teenager Naomi Osaka, who began her junior career in Guelph, Ontario, finished her first round match on day two of the US Open at a break of serve in the first set on Saturday at 3-4 with which she won it. Her straight sets victory was impressive even by the standards of a tournament that has seen incredible finishes to opening matches.
However, this time of year, having just finished her junior career, not surprising would be looking further afield than the junior circuit. That means Japan and that means Osaka’s path to the US Open final (under which she could become the first Japanese player to reach a grand slam final) might be slightly harder, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
The 17-year-old, who will be representing the USA in the upcoming WTA women’s championships in Washington, DC, is the pride of Japan and the reigning junior champion of the season’s last grand slam. She has a twin sister who goes under the name of Sascha, and a big sister called Lauren.
She hopes the two younger sisters can become top women at one point, so is hanging around in a career that seems destined to end in the top 100.
Osaka has faced off against the likes of Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza – as well as playing against the beret-wearing Damir Dzumhur in her debut at the main women’s event in New York. And while not possessing an Olympic medal in a time when Osaka has become a key figure, the last year or so has seen a powerful rise up the junior rankings: she now has 107 points.
Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka at the US Open. Photograph: Michael Steele/USA Today Sports