Naomi Osaka shows killer instinct, soft heart in Grand Slam breakthrough
The killer instinct that carried Japan's Naomi Osaka to a first Grand Slam title evaporated as she hugged her idol Serena Williams after beating her in a controversial US Open final.
Osaka said it wasn't the ire of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd -- angered at penalties meted out to Williams -- but just the realization that she'd robbed the US great who inspired her career of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
"When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I'm not a Serena fan. I'm just a tennis player playing another tennis player.
"But then when I hugged her at the net I felt like a little kid again."
Undaunted by the massive pro-Williams crowd -- extra noisy with the Ashe stadium roof closed because of rain -- she broke Williams twice for a quick 4-1 lead in the opening set, displaying the kind of powerful ground game and dominant serve that have made Williams herself a star.
She had locked up the first in style with a blistering service winner when Williams was incensed by a code violation warning for receiving coaching from her box in the second game of the second set.
Although Williams would take a 3-1 lead in the set, the accusation festered, and soon a violation for racquet abuse cost her a point while a third for verbal abuse cost her a game.
"Serena came to the bench and told me she had a point penalty and when she got the game penalty I didn't know that either.
"I was just trying to focus on myself at that time," Osaka said.
A somewhat muted reaction to her history-making victory had nothing to do with the late-match chaos, Osaka said.
"To have a huge reaction isn't really me in the first place," she said.
"It just still didn't really feel that real." Osaka, who earned $3.8 million (3.29 million Euros) for the victory, said her next goal was a simple one: to win her next tournament in Tokyo.