Azarenka picked up where she left off in her semi-final victory over Serena Williams and swept through the first set in just 27 minutes.
She was 2-0 up in the second set as well and almost within sight of the finish line only for Osaka to dig in, wrestle the match onto her terms and march to a 1-6 6-3 6-3 victory.
She lay on the court soaking in her achievement in the cavernous surrounds of an almost empty Arthur Ashe Stadium, explaining afterwards in typical Osaka style: “I always see everyone collapse after match point. But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 12, 2020
Asked how she turned the match around, the 22-year-old added: “I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose in under an hour so I just have to try and stop having a really bad attitude.”
The young Japanese star, already the highest-earning female athlete in the world, adds another £2.3million in prize money to her fortune while she becomes the first Asian player to win three grand slam titles, surpassing Chinese trailblazer Li Na.
Osaka’s first slam title here two years ago felt like something of a sideshow to the now infamous row between Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos.
She won a second successive title at the Australian Open last year and became the world’s best player but Osaka, a shy and quirky character, has admitted that she was not ready to be in such a position.