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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Naomi Osaka 'happy' over US Open win despite Serena Williams drama

The Japanese player does not feel that her success was overshadowed by her rival's argument with the umpire

Naomi Osaka made her first public appearance since winning the US Open on Thursday, in Yokohama, Japan. Reuters 
Naomi Osaka made her first public appearance since winning the US Open on Thursday, in Yokohama, Japan. Reuters 

Japan's Naomi Osaka has refused to criticise Serena Williams after her historic US Open victory was overshadowed by the American's furious row with the chair umpire.

The 20-year-old melted hearts when she broke down sobbing after thrashing her idol 6-2, 6-4 to become Japan's first grand slam singles champion in New York last weekend.

But after returning to Japan on Thursday, Osaka insisted there were no hard feelings towards Williams, who branded umpire Carlos Ramos a "thief" in an astonishing tantrum triggered by a code violation for coaching that culminated in a docked game.

"For me, I don't feel sad because I wouldn't even know what I'm expected to feel," said Osaka, who has climbed from 19th to seventh in the new world rankings.

"I don't think I even thought about feeling sad because there's no experience for me to draw on in any other grand slam final," she added.

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"I just thought I shouldn't have any regrets. Overall I felt really happy and know I accomplished a lot."

Osaka, who competes at next week's Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, also revealed her plans to break into the top five this year – and win a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"I think for this year my immediate goal would be to get to Singapore," said Osaka, after putting herself firmly in contention to reach the season-ending WTA Finals.

"I want to do well at the Pan Pacific Open and maybe year-end top five – but I'm not putting pressure on myself. For now, I'm just sort of riding the wave."

"I'm very excited the Olympics are going to be held in Tokyo," added Osaka, who is of Haitian-Japanese descent and was raised in the United States.

"It's every athlete's dream to play in the Olympics, so of course it would be my goal to win gold."

But for now Osaka is itching to do normal stuff – such as a catch-up with her big sister Mari, who is also a professional tennis player, going shopping and eating her favourite matcha ice cream.

"I guess I'd like to hang out with my sister – I haven't seen her since Wimbledon," said Osaka, who has become an unlikely hero in a country still reeling after a summer of deadly typhoons and earthquakes.

"The Pan Pacific is so close and I have to be on a diet for my matches, so maybe afterwards for the ice cream."

Asked how she felt about being a role model for young children, Osaka gave mixed signals.

"I've always thought Kei [Nishikori] was a super good role model and hopefully I can be that, too," she said. "But don't look up to me, because I don't want that responsibility."