Japan’s Naomi Osaka yesterday ended an eight-month title drought by winning the Pan Pacific Open in her home city, her first trophy since her second consecutive Grand Slam triumph at the Australian Open in January.
Osaka overwhelmed Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in just over 1 hour.
The US-based star was born in Osaka and it was a happy homecoming for the 21-year-old, who beamed and smiled her way through a dominant week on court.
She became the first Japanese player to win the Pan Pacific title since Kimiko Date in 1995.
“I have played finals here. This is my third time. So I am really glad that I was able to win, and for it to be in the city where I was born makes it really special,” Osaka said.
Pavlyuchenkova had no answer to Osaka’s powerful and precise serving as the Japanese won a perfect 100 percent of points when her first serve was successful and battered down four aces.
World No. 4 Osaka raced into a 3-0 lead early on and was rarely troubled thereafter as the Russian world No. 41 was outclassed, unable to force a break point, while the home crowd favorite broke Pavlyuchenkova twice in the first set and once in the second set with an array of powerful groundstrokes from both wings.
Osaka’s victory march was momentarily interrupted when an apparent match-winning ace was overruled after a Pavlyuchenkova challenge, but, when the point was replayed, the Russian netted a wide-angled Osaka backhand.
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