NEW DELHI: Naomi Osaka won the US Open title 6-2, 6-4 but Serena Williams dominated the headlines for her epic meltdown when she accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of being a “thief” and accusing the sport of “sexism”. Former World No. 1 Boris Becker slammed Serena for her behaviour in the match.
In his column for the Times of India, Becker wrote, “It was an eventful weekend but we should celebrate two wonderful champions rather than get caught up in the surround sound engulfing the women’s final on Saturday. Japan got its first Grand Slam champion in the form of Naomi Osaka, who played incredibly powerful and well-strategised tennis against Serena Williams. A day later, a calm Juan Martin Del Potro was completely outplayed by Novak Djokovic in the men’s.”
Serena was furious that she had been accused of coaching after coach Patrick Mouratoglou was seen making hand signals in the box. She was eventually fined $17,000 but the angry tirade opened up a huge debate over coaching and the treatment of women in tennis.
“I have never seen a women’s final as intense and as widely discussed as this one. Serena Williams, Carlos Ramos, Patrick Mouratoglou all had a bad day at work. Ramos need not have stuck so closely to the rule book as he did because his primary duty is to help players across choppy waters. By insisting on docking a point and then a game he just blew the situation into a hugely combative one. Yes, he was technically right but these are players and not machines and often sense rather than censure works,” Becker added.
“I would rather lose than win by cheating,” screamed Serena, who insisted that a male player would never have been docked a game penalty. Mouratoglou said the ban on coaching was “hypocrisy”.
“As for Serena, she really did have a meltdown when she was called for taking coaching. The racquet abuse was unnecessary and finally calling Ramos a thief was way, way out of line. Serena is a great champion and she is the one we are looking at – not Ramos and Patrick. She owes her stature and legacy more grace than what she showed. She has had words on court before but this time it went way beyond anything I have seen for a long time. Patrick did what every single coach does – and I speak from experience. Each and every player is communicating with his coach. Tennis is the only sport that disallows this and there is absolutely no sense in this rule. I hope the sport’s administrators look closely at this and try and find a way to make official a coach’s role during match play. If Saturday’s high drama precipitates changes in the way coaches can speak to their player, some good would come from it,” Becker opined.
Osaka displayed not only a stellar game but remarkable poise throughout the match to seal a historic win.
“As a player and expert, I will remember Saturday’s final for the right reason – for seeing a young champion coming into her own. Naomi Osaka will not be a one-Slam wonder. She has a great all-court game and came into the tournament after a great performance at Indian Wells. She won the first set effortlessly and looked energetic and in fine touch. She kept her head through an eventful game and the coming years will hopefully see her mature into a fine player on the women’s circuit,” Becker added.
Novak Djokovic clinched his third US Open title with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 triumph over Juan Martin del Potro, taking him level with Pete Sampras’s mark of 14 Grand Slams.
“The men’s final between Delpo and Djokovic was a tad disappointing, particularly the second set. These two know each other’s game well so there was no surprise that the first was full of crashing forehands from the Argentine, impossibly retrieved by Djokovic. The second set was when Delpo seemed flat and that was where the match seemed to fall out of his grasp. The year ends with Djokovic clearly reclaiming his spot as the best player at the moment. He is in the top three now and if he keeps up this form, he will end the year as Number One. I am exceedingly happy because it’s clear that he is enjoying tennis once again. He has reached 14 Grand Slams to level with Pete Sampras and looks good for a few more. If the year started with the celebration of the Roger-Rafa duet, it has ended with a virtuoso performance from Novak,” Becker concluded.