But Ashe Stadium was nearly empty on Saturday, as it has been throughout this unusual U.S. Open where fans were not permitted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
What little crowd there was in attendance never became a factor, and though Osaka started very slowly against Azarenka, she gradually found her range and became the first player in 26 years to win a U.S. Open women’s singles final after losing the first set.
The last player to manage it was Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, who rallied to defeat Steffi Graf in 1994.
Osaka, 22, who represents Japan and is based in the United States, is 3-0 in Grand Slam singles finals. With her huge serve, powerful groundstrokes and improved fitness, she appeared ready to take command of the women’s game when she won the 2018 U.S. Open and 2019 Australian Open and became No. 1.
But she surprisingly split with her coach Sascha Bajin shortly after that victory in Australia and struggled to recapture the same sparkling form.