But the Japanese refused to be mentally beaten, and had the courage to hit out when all looked lost. Osaka has a 20-2 record in majors against players outside the top 20. Hsieh, ranked 27, would not be loss No.3.
Osaka’s fire recalled her three-setter against Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open – the only time she was taken the distance in New York. Animated and fighting hard, Osaka smashed through Hsieh’s defences with a series of big forehands to break for 3-4. It was part of a sequence of seven straight games for the Japanese star that carried her to 2-0 in the deciding set.
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Now Hsieh was reeling. The match had been hers to lose at 7-5 4-1. She was reacting rather than inventing. Would-be winners were fading just wide of the lines and devilish drop shots were few and far between. She had to fend off another breakpoint just to get on the board in the final set, aided by three Osaka errors.
But she would not win another game, Hsieh’s bag of tricks turned out but no answer for the Osaka power surge.
“Uhm, I just thought I didn’t want to give up,” said the famously droll Osaka.
She even saw the humour in the heat of battle. Stumbling to the court as she served for the second set, Osaka called the umpire call out: “Naomi, are you okay?”
“No!” She fired back, before sweeping the next three points for the game and set.