Champion. Naomi Osaka

Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the US Open

Naomi Osaka remains undefeated in Grand Slam Finals

On her back, gazing up through the retracted roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium, Naomi Osaka put everything on pause. Moments earlier, she captured her third Major – her second US Open title.

Putting her previous six wins aside, the championship match itself was a monumental achievement. Down a set and break, she found a way to win. By herself, alone on court, down but not out, Naomi figured-out the adjustments required to counter Azarenka’s vintage dominance. Then — the most difficult part — she executed that new strategy with sublime conviction and precision. She stood up, rose to the occasion, and delivered on her vision, despite the unfavorable odds.

Sports poetry? Absolutely. Sports fans love this shit. But it goes deeper. From a human standpoint, tonight’s championship match mirrors who Naomi Osaka has become.

From Crippling Shyness to Ownership of Authenticity

During the season’s five month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, Naomi Osaka made a simple proclamation on social media that has dramatically changed her life.

I’m done being shy. It’s really a waste of my time. I could’ve shared so many ideas by now, I could’ve had convos with so many different people. All the things I could’ve learned but no I’m over here actually putting my own limiter on myself.

Naomi Osaka | 4 May 2020

Since then, she has been candid, vulnerable and transparent about her horror and frustration with police brutality against people of color. When white Wisconsin police officers shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back, she withdrew from the Western & Southern Open as a show of protest. Both the WTA and ATP Tours immediately echoed Osaka’s example, cancelling Semifinal matches the following day.

Before each match at the US Open, Naomi walked onto Arthur Ashe Stadium wearing black masks emblazoned with the names of victims of police violence and racial injustice. George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Trayvon Martin. Philando Castile. Tamir Rice. Elijah McClain. Breonna Taylor.

No longer afraid – or SHY as she put it in May – Naomi chose to use her voice. She acknowledged that she had earned “a platform,” simply due to the popularity that comes with success in sport. And she specifically chose not to make that “platform” about herself, but rather to raise awareness of issues and ideals that define her. During the sport’s first Pandemic Slam, that platform’s plight was to further the ongoing conversation around racial injustice.

Redefined Assertive Osaka. Two time US Open Champion.

In May, Naomi Osaka overcame shyness. She allowed herself to use her authentic voice, despite years of overthinking every response, every interaction.

Tonight, she overcame a timid performance on the job, thanks to exemplary effort from her opponent. But tonight, like in May, Naomi actively altered her own reality. She sought answers from within. And although those answers were difficult and challenging, she accepted the necessary course, executed brilliantly, and determined her own destiny.

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Champion Naomi Osaka Match Recap

Head to Head: Fourth meeting between these two players

Announcer Andy Taylor. 2020 US Open. Champion Naomi Osaka Head to Head

[4] Naomi Osaka -09- (JPN) | Championship Announcer Introduction

She is undefeated in Grand Slam Championship matches. Two years ago, she earned her first Major title right here in Arthur Ashe Stadium, then went on to win Australia and claim the World #1 ranking. From Japan, 2018 US Open Champion, Naomi Osaka.

  • FF — W | Victoria Azarenka -27- (BLR) | Score: 1-6, 6-3, 6-3
  • SF — W | [28] Jennifer Brady -41- (USA) | Score: 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-3 | RECAP
  • QF — W | Shelby Rogers -93- (USA) | Score: 6-3, 6-4 | RECAP
  • R4 — W | [14] Anett Kontaveit -21- (EST) | Score: 6-3, 6-4 | RECAP
  • R3 — W | Marta Kostyuk -137- (UKR) | Score: 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-2 | RECAP
  • R2 — W | Camila Giorgi -74- (ITA) | Score: 6-1, 6-2 | RECAP
  • R1 — W | Misaki Doi -81- (JPN) | Score: 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 | RECAP
Victoria Azarenka -27- (BLR) | Championship Announcer Introduction

On Thursday – down a set – she came back to defeat 6-time US Open Champion Serena Williams to reach her 5th career Grand Slam Final. From Belarus – 2-time Australian Open Champion and 2-time US Open Finalist, Victoria Azarenka.

  • FF — L | [4] Naomi Osaka -09- (JPN) | Score: 6-1, 3-6, 3-6
  • SF — W | [3] Serena Williams -08- (USA) | Score: 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 | RECAP
  • QF — W | [16] Elise Mertens -18- (BEL) | Score: 6-1, 6-0 | RECAP
  • R4 — W | [20] Karolina Muchova -26- (CZE) | Score: 5-7, 6-1, 6-4
  • R3 — W | Iga Swiatek -53- (POL) | Score: 6-4, 6-2
  • R2 — W | [5] Aryna Sabalenka -11- (BLR) | Score: 6-1, 6-3
  • R1 — W | [2] Barbara Haas -139- (AUT) | Score: 6-1, 6-2

A New Reality | 2020 US Open Tennis Championships

In late February and early March, announcer Andy Taylor compèred two of the final professional tennis events before the global coronavirus pandemic put the skids on the 2020 season. In Doha, he hosted Aryna Sabalenka’s relentless run to the Qatar Total Open title. Then in Honolulu, he emceed Team USA’s Davis Cup Qualifier victory over Uzbekistan. Including Bob and Mike Bryan’s final professional match.

As U.S. coronavirus cases continued to mount, the day following Team USA’s 4-0 victory, all professional sports came to a grinding halt. Over the next five months, as Americans stayed home and “socially distanced,” nearly 6-million contracted the illness. Tragically, over 180-thousand perished. Worldwide, COVID-19 killed over 840-thousand and sickened 25-million (at the time of this writing).

New York hosts the resumption of the 2020 tennis season

Early on, New York City was the epicenter of COVID’s outbreak. The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center became prime real estate for New York’s coordinated pandemic response. Additionally, the state used Louis Armstrong Stadium as a warehouse to pack meals for patients, front-line workers and students dependent on the city’s school lunch program.

In late July, after New York “flattened the curve,” Governor Cuomo green-lighted the USTA’s plans to resume the 2020 tennis season in Flushing. Without fans. Without qualifying. Rather, the Western & Southern Open moved from Cincinnati to the grounds of the US Open. Furthermore, the USTA implemented strict COVID-19 testing policies. It limited the number in each player’s entourage. Additionally, it created a protective “Bubble” for all tournament participants at nearby hotels and on-site.

Announcer Andy Taylor | 19th US Open Tennis Championships

After a five month pause, with the coronavirus “politicized” and still spreading unchecked through portions of the population, Andy was hesitant when asked to be a part of the sport’s return. However, after carefully considering the USTA’s extensive health and safety protocols, he soon realized the US Open could in fact be one of the safest environments to avoid COVID’s spread.

Masks are mandatory. For crew, testing occurs every fourth day. To ensure best broadcast quality, the USTA understood that Arthur Ashe Stadium’s announcer would need to work without a mask. Therefore, they isolated Andy in his own booth. Thus, keeping production team members free from aerosols emitted during player introductions.

Rather than fly, Andy drove to Flushing. He uses his own vehicle to shuttle back and forth from the hotel to the venue, which limits his exposure to others. Additionally, this allowed Andy to bring his own hot plate and coffee machine, completely eliminating the need for others to bring him meals and supplies. Essentially, the Voice of the US Open is working from a bubble within “The Bubble.” Responsibly limiting contact with colleagues and players as much as humanly possible.

Announcer Andy Taylor | New Grand Slam Global Pandemic Presentation

With the global emphasis on social distancing to avoid further outbreaks of COVID-19, the world of sport production is reinventing “the show” by harnessing new technologies that have emerged over the past decade. As always, the core goal is to meet fans where they are.

In other words, with fans exclusively watching on television – or on-the-go through mobile devices – the 2020 US Open “stadium show” is now geared toward the camera, rather than the ticket holder. This year, Andy and the stadium production team are working closely with ESPN to integrate the broadcast and stadium presentations. Instead of narrating player introductions exclusively for fans on site, intros and all aspects of the stadium show are now part of the broadcast product streamed to fans worldwide.

The true creator is necessity, who is the mother of our invention.

Jowett | English translation of Plato’s “Republic”

Live sport presentation is a brave new world. Through perseverance and bold experimentation, the US Open continues to innovate; determined to feed each tennis fan’s hunger after five months of the world’s new and humbling collective-reality.