Osaka and Azarenka were supposed to meet two weeks ago in the Western & Southern Open final, but Osaka had to withdraw because of a hamstring injury. Saturday was their first meeting since the 2019 French Open, which Osaka won in three sets.
This marks the second time Osaka has won the U.S. Open—her first career Grand Slam title came at this event two years ago. She also won the 2019 Australian Open.
Osaka was out of sorts at the start, with Azarenka breaking her serve twice in the first four games and three times total in the first set.
Neither player hit an ace in the opening set, but Osaka committed two double-faults and 14 unforced errors.
One key to Osaka's success throughout this tournament has been her ability to take advantage on serve. WTA Insider noted she only had her serve broken five times in six matches coming into the final.
Osaka did get back on track after falling behind 2-0 and one point from dropping the third game in the second set. She hit five aces and won three break points en route to forcing a decisive third set.
When Azarenka made it to the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open, she told reporters there was a time earlier this year when she considered walking away from the sport.
"Yes, I thought about it. At that moment I didn't know if I would continue playing, but I decided to try again one last time and see what would happen. I am happy with the choice I made, but I would have felt good in any case. There aren't many things I regret."
Azarenka has nothing to hang her head about after this run at the U.S. Open. She advanced to the final by defeating four ranked opponents, including top-five seeds Serena Williams (No. 3) and Aryna Sabalenka (No. 5).
Osaka has been on one of the hottest streaks of her career over the past three weeks. She didn't get a chance to compete for the Western & Southern Open title but has otherwise won the last 10 matches she's been able to play.
The U.S. Open has been Osaka's best Grand Slam event in her young career. Her second win at this tournament will move her up to No. 3 in the WTA rankings for the first time since January.
The Italian Open is scheduled to begin Monday, with Azarenka set to play Venus Williams in the first round. Osaka won't participate in the event, which could make her next tournament the French Open (starting Sept. 21).