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DonRocks

Naomi Osaka (1997-), Japanese Tennis Player, and 2018 US Open Women's Singles Champion

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I've seen enough of Naomi Osaka where I'm thanking the Lord that we have the next Women's superstar who doesn't squeal like a sodomized chipmunk every time she strikes the ball.

Osaka grew up idolizing Serena_Williams, and was wonderfully deferential to her after a somewhat controversial victory (which included three code violations that went against Williams). In fact, when Williams won her first Grand Slam title, Osaka wasn't yet born.

Remember the name, Naomi Osaka: You'll be hearing it for years to come.

Osaka.jpg

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She was clearly the better player in the match and her groundstrokes were deep, heavy, and blazing . Ive been watching tennis for a long time and cannot ever remember seeing a game penalty code misconduct in any match, and I can certainly remember lots of times players have said far, far worse to an umpire with no repercussions. The umpire insinuated himself into the match when there was really no need, or precedent, for him to do so. I agree with the Sally Jenkins piece in the Washington Post. 

It is a shame, because Osaka played well. Also, terrified to click the "squeal like a sodomized chipmunk" link above.

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6 hours ago, B.A.R. said:

It is a shame, because Osaka played well.

I think this will only help the relationship between Osaka and Williams going forward - poor Osaka was crying on the winner's podium, and they weren't tears of joy, either: You just get the feeling she's a really wonderful person.

She probably would have won the match anyway (mainly due to young legs), but it would absolutely not have been a given.

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4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

She probably would have won the match anyway (mainly due to young legs), but it would absolutely not have been a given.

Serena is obviously fantastic, but in no way was she going to win that match. She was mentally on the ropes prior to the point penalty and was up to old tricks and gamesmanship throughout the second set (waiting late in changeovers, slowing the pace of play - without penalty I might add). Don’t know what it is about the open that brings this out more than other tournaments for Serena.

Sad to see Osaka’s win tarnished by boorish behavior by two parties - Serena and the chair umpire. FWIW, I played tennis in HS, college, and still play competitively today (5.0). I can’t remember seeing a game penalty in any setting either as a player or a spectator. Point penalties sure, but those were few and far between. Failing to hold Serena to account for her behavior takes away from the conversation in my opinion. The rules are pretty cut and dry in terms of umpire discretion and they may not be good rules, but they exist and can be enforced. Tennis has an issue with one set of enforcement criteria for superstars and one for everyone else (Don’t get me started on Rafa), and if this episode drives some standardization that’d be great.

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I don't watch tennis but I know you can't abuse the ref in soccer matches, football games, basketball games, etc.  So I'm not sure why it's generally allowed in tennis (or so some people claim).

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14 hours ago, Keithstg said:

I can’t remember seeing a game penalty in any setting either as a player or a spectator. Point penalties sure, but those were few and far between. 

Me neither. Ever.

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7 minutes ago, B.A.R. said:

Me neither. Ever.

Of course, this could simply be because most players, once given a warning or penalized a point, leave well enough alone. Serena clearly did not - same as in 2009 (point penalty giving Clijsters the match) and 2011 with Stosur. 

While not a point penalty, Fabio Fognini was kicked out of the US Open last year and fined $24k for derogatory comments made in Italian to a chair umpire. No penalties were levied at the time, this was after the fact. Probably the only other thing like this I can remember in recent memory - save Serena's other incidents. 

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14 hours ago, Keithstg said:

Serena is obviously fantastic, but in no way was she going to win that match. She was mentally on the ropes prior to the point penalty and was up to old tricks and gamesmanship throughout the second set (waiting late in changeovers, slowing the pace of play - without penalty I might add). Don’t know what it is about the open that brings this out more than other tournaments for Serena.

Sad to see Osaka’s win tarnished by boorish behavior by two parties - Serena and the chair umpire. FWIW, I played tennis in HS, college, and still play competitively today (5.0). I can’t remember seeing a game penalty in any setting either as a player or a spectator. Point penalties sure, but those were few and far between. Failing to hold Serena to account for her behavior takes away from the conversation in my opinion. The rules are pretty cut and dry in terms of umpire discretion and they may not be good rules, but they exist and can be enforced. Tennis has an issue with one set of enforcement criteria for superstars and one for everyone else (Don’t get me started on Rafa), and if this episode drives some standardization that’d be great.

Agreed on just about all counts.  I mean, it’s not like she could’ve expected that the guy would come down off the chair and ask if she was ok or needed anything 😂

Of course it’s her fault for melting down & putting herself in that position. And she was going down either way.  However, I don't think that the rules are as "cut & dry" as you state. While officials can't change the penalties once they've called an infraction, they do have a lot of latitude about calling them.  The coaching issue that started the dominoes falling has frequently resulted in an aside to the player to tell your coach to stop and not issue the 1st penalty.  Especially the way her initial interaction with the chair on that call concluded, she may well have thought that, when she slammed her racquet, it would result in a 1st and not a 2nd (point) penalty.  As for the 3rd (game) penalty, have you seen the footage of this umpire's similar interactions with at least 3 superstar male players who cursed or loudly demeaned him?  Not a penalty assessed.  He certainly could've at least warned her to stop or he would issue the penalty.  

First rule of officiating in any sport is to do everything possible to not make yourself a moving part of the game. Some do it better than others.  He blew it.

(5.0 huh?  I'm impressed)

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3 minutes ago, Steve R. said:

Agreed on just about all counts.  I mean, it’s not like she could’ve expected that the guy would come down off the chair and ask if she was ok or needed anything 😂

Of course it’s her fault for melting down & putting herself in that position. And she was going down either way.  However, I don't think that the rules are as "cut & dry" as you state. While officials can't change the penalties once they've called an infraction, they do have a lot of latitude about calling them.  The coaching issue that started the dominoes falling has frequently resulted in an aside to the player to tell your coach to stop and not issue the 1st penalty.  Especially the way her initial interaction with the chair on that call concluded, she may well have thought that, when she slammed her racquet, it would result in a 1st and not a 2nd (point) penalty.  As for the 3rd (game) penalty, have you seen the footage of this umpire's similar interactions with at least 3 superstar male players who cursed or loudly demeaned him?  Not a penalty assessed.  He certainly could've at least warned her to stop or he would issue the penalty.  

(5.0 huh?  I'm impressed)

Yes, although I bet I'm "dropped" this year to 4.5 due to lack of activity.

Apologies - I meant that escalations are cut and dry once penalties are called, in the sense that warning>point>game. Had the umpire left his chair to explain that the warning was to Patrick M and not Serena he would have potentially opened himself up to criticism on two fronts. First, taking time/ focus away from a player to explain a rule that she should know, and potentially escalating the situation, and secondly being criticized for following up with a player too closely, a la Kyrgos earlier in the tournament - as you noted above.

I haven't seen all of the other calls or non-calls and don't need to because they are irrelevant. The umpire has latitude to call the match as he or she sees fit. The player has to control their conduct or suffer the consequences.

Oh, and the first words out of Patrick's mouth when interviewed were "I'm honest, I was coaching". End of story.

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I get it.  She caused the situation with her reaction & should've had more self control.  I just think that the umpire's latitude in this case was inconsistent with what he's seen fit to do elsewhere and way more concrete and hard assed than the norm (which, to be honest, is his reputation).  He did what was allowable, but he also knows better. 

As a total aside (yep, let's make this about me) - While the "young" (in their 40s) 4.5 players I play doubles with in Bklyn are busily trying to push their way up the ladder, I tell them that I'm basically trying to manage my decline.  When I'm in Florida during the winter, all my older 4.5 doubles playing friends are, one by one, getting themselves dropped to 4.0 so that, at age 65, they can remain at their comfort level.  As time goes by, poaching becomes, more and more, for eggs.  

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4 minutes ago, Steve R. said:

As a total aside (yep, let's make this about me) - While the "young" (in their 40s) 4.5 players I play doubles with in Bklyn are busily trying to push their way up the ladder, I tell them that I'm basically trying to manage my decline.  When I'm in Florida during the winter, all my older 4.5 doubles playing friends are, one by one, getting themselves dropped to 4.0 so that, at age 65, they can remain at their comfort level.  As time goes by, poaching becomes, more and more, for eggs.  

I hear you re "managing decline", although I'm in my early 40s. I just don't want to deal with the travel and tournament scene more than once a year or so - that scene seems very "extra" to me. You know, 12 racquet bags, etc etc. We have good weekly 4.5+ matches at my clubs and absent one or two tournaments a year that's enough for me.

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On 9/11/2018 at 10:22 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

I'm with enforcing the rules as written. 

Okay, i'll take another shot at this.  For many years in baseball, umpires allowed a "phantom tag" of 2nd base when the fielder was trying to turn the double play.  The fielder needed to only be in the vicinity of touching the base before throwing on to first.  It was accepted this way for years.  Then, finally, in the off season, MLB informed all officials that they were to call it by the book and that 2nd base had to be touched by the fielder for the out call to be made.  

So, does anyone here think that, in Game 7 of the World Series, prior to MLB telling the officials that this rule was to be enforced, if an umpire had taken it upon himself to enforce it during an 8th inning ground ball play there would have been a calm acceptance by the fielding team?  I'll go out on a limb and guess that a Manager would've gone ballistic and gotten thrown out of the game.  And that MLB would've been shocked that the umpire handled it that way.

Again, I'm not denying that Serena's team broke the coaching rule.  Or that she isn't responsible for her actions and potential consequences.  But I just can't see the defense of the seasoned umpire who decided to interject himself and his strict interpretation of official consequences in a crucial match when other options were well known & could've been employed? (Like an aside to Serena during the changeover before the 1st penalty that went something like "tell your coach to stop sending signals... he's your employee and his actions, received by you or not, are against the rules and will cost you if I spot it again" or before the 3rd penalty "you have to stop now... if you continue, I will issue another penalty and it'll cost you a game").  It's not about whether Serena knew the rules, its that she could've been given perfectly acceptable chances to rein it in.  And wasn't.  And that's on him... and his overall ability to officiate.

 

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On 9/11/2018 at 10:22 AM, Ericandblueboy said:

I'm with enforcing the rules as written.  I dunno why there are so many brats in tennis that got away with their antics.

Tennis has different standards than, for example, football and basketball - I suspect both of those sports have f-bombs dropped constantly. I think a lot of this has to do with, not only tradition, but also the audience being able to easily hear any profanities or controversial comments.

One thing that surprises me - with all this controversy, I'm *still* not sure whether or not Williams was informed about her first code violation when it happened: If so, then she probably should have done the majority of her complaining at that time (it was after the third code violation when she went on-and-on about cheating, motherhood, reputation, thievery, etc.)

Certainly, there are double standards in tennis, regarding both gender and race, but these issues are *way* more involved than this one, relatively isolated, incident.

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Having digested this some more, I'd like to make a proposal:

The four parties in this equation (Osaka, Williams, Umpire, Fans):

have just been listed, in order, from "least-guilty" to "most-guilty" (and I'm giving a "tie" for second place).

1) Osaka is the only faultless party in this equation - this show of humility and grace will only help her career.

2a) Williams has exploded (not imploded; exploded) when she's been on the ropes - she was going to lose this match, and she felt it. She acted entitled, and although her frustration was justified, she went overboard in demonstrating it.

2b) The umpire could have controlled this with better communication. The first code violation should have been clearly explained when it happened. He also should have called Williams over before the third code violation, and politely warned her that she was on the verge of losing a game if she doesn't turn around and play. Right. Now.

4) The fans at the match were the biggest jerks of all. How *dare* they boo - more than once - when Osaka is having her moment in the sun.

I can add a fifth party: people who are commenting (like me) - this has been turned into a much greater issue than it actually is.

And I *still* don't know whether or not Williams knew about the first code violation when she smashed her racket. If she didn't know about it, she really does have a right to be furious - but that's a big if.

Naomi Osaka emerges as the only winner in all of this.

One other unrelated thought: Osaka is as good, right now, at age 20, as Williams has ever been in her life. Pull that one out anytime someone thinks athletics doesn't evolve over the generations.

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On 9/12/2018 at 11:50 AM, DonRocks said:

Tennis has different standards than, for example, football and basketball - I suspect both of those sports have f-bombs dropped constantly. I think a lot of this has to do with, not only tradition, but also the audience being able to easily hear any profanities or controversial comments.

One thing that surprises me - with all this controversy, I'm *still* not sure whether or not Williams was informed about her first code violation when it happened: If so, then she probably should have done the majority of her complaining at that time (it was after the third code violation when she went on-and-on about cheating, motherhood, reputation, thievery, etc.)

Certainly, there are double standards in tennis, regarding both gender and race, but these issues are *way* more involved than this one, relatively isolated, incident.

Do you consider the first code violation the coaching (although not technically hers) or the broken racquet? If the former, she was made aware immediately, and lost it. And continued going back on the issue in subsequent changeovers.

I think that Serena may have only noticed the point penalty after it was awarded - but again because she was busy arguing a settled issue.

On 9/12/2018 at 11:40 PM, DonRocks said:

Having digested this some more, I'd like to make a proposal:

2a) Williams has exploded (not imploded; exploded) when she's been on the ropes - she was going to lose this match, and she felt it. She acted entitled, and although her frustration was justified, she went overboard in demonstrating it.

Naomi Osaka emerges as the only winner in all of this.

One other unrelated thought: Osaka is as good, right now, at age 20, as Williams has ever been in her life. Pull that one out anytime someone thinks athletics doesn't evolve over the generations.

Totally agree with all of your assessment. At her best, Serena is an incredible player/ sportswoman and ambassador. At her worst, an entitled bully. Sadly, this incident demonstrated the latter, and has largely been excused.

Osaka is fantastic. Honestly, she should start playing doubles (although this won't happen now) - she seemed visibly uncomfortable at the net and doubles would go a long way to addressing this. Of course, if Serena couldn't bait her into the net more than a handful of times it may be a moot point.

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2 hours ago, Keithstg said:

Do you consider the first code violation the coaching (although not technically hers) or the broken racquet? If the former, she was made aware immediately, and lost it. And continued going back on the issue in subsequent changeovers.

I think that Serena may have only noticed the point penalty after it was awarded - but again because she was busy arguing a settled issue.

I considered the first code violation the coaching (I didn't see that part) - that's one reason why I wasn't sure what happened.

2 hours ago, Keithstg said:

Totally agree with all of your assessment. At her best, Serena is an incredible player/ sportswoman and ambassador. At her worst, an entitled bully. Sadly, this incident demonstrated the latter, and has largely been excused.

Osaka is fantastic. Honestly, she should start playing doubles (although this won't happen now) - she seemed visibly uncomfortable at the net and doubles would go a long way to addressing this. Of course, if Serena couldn't bait her into the net more than a handful of times it may be a moot point.

I was hoping nobody would comment, because I actually don't agree with it: There was a time when Williams *imploded*, not exploded - the time whem she was playing doubles at Wimbledon with her sister, and could barely stand up, much less serve. Honestly, that still seems like an episode of depression to me, rather than "a virus," but that's just conjecture - I think if she was *that* sick with a virus (which would require IV fluids immediately), she'd have known in advance that she couldn't have even attempted to play.

I think Osaka has the best cross-court backhand I've ever seen a woman hit, especially against a high ball - how she generates that much pace is beyond me. Yes, a lot of this is racket and string technology, but everyone else has the same advantages at this point.

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