Wozniacki downs Osaka to win Pan Pacific Open

Reuters, TOKYO

Mon, Sep 26, 2016 - Page 12

Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki continued her revival by brushing aside Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka 7-5, 6-3 in Tokyo yesterday to win the Pan Pacific Open for the second time and secure her first title of the year.

Hampered by injuries, the 26-year-old Dane slumped to No. 74 in the world at the end of last month and looked like going through a season without a title for the first time since 2007, sparking rumors retirement might be on the horizon.

She again looked in trouble after losing her serve for the second time in the opening set yesterday, but proved almost unstoppable after receiving treatment on her upper thigh and wrapped up her 24th career title in 106 minutes.

“It’s a final, both of us have had a great week, I just wanted to go out there and have fun, and try and play well,” Wozniacki said after adding a second title to her 2010 triumph. “I’m just enjoying it, you never know when injuries are going to happen and you are going to be taken away from the game, so I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”

Wild-card Osaka, playing her first WTA Tour final, simply crumbled as Wozniacki raced away with the second set and only mustered up any real resistance when she was 5-0 down.

It was some resistance, though, as the 18-year-old unleashed the thunderous serve and explosive ground strokes that saw off two top-20 players on her run to the final.

Ultimately, though, Wozniacki’s experience of playing the big moments — she converted five of her six break points in the match compared with three of nine for Osaka — proved decisive.

While Osaka, who will move into the top 50 today on the back of her run at the Ariake Coliseum, was crestfallen, Wozniacki predicted great things for the teenager.

“She’s been playing really good, and is going to be a great player and is already rising up the rankings so fast,” the Dane said. “I have no doubt we’re going to see her in many, many more finals.”

Wozniacki, who rose to No. 28 in the world after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open earlier this month, will move another four or five spots closer to the top 20 on the back of her first title since Kuala Lumpur in March last year.

If she is indeed planning to retire, it looks like she will play on at least until September next year.

“This is a great tournament,” she said. “I can’t wait to be back next year.”

KOREA OPEN

AP, SEOUL

Lara Arruabarrena of Spain beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 yesterday to win the Korea Open and claim her second WTA Tour title.

After racing through the opening set, Arruabarrena double-faulted twice to surrender her serve in the fourth game of the second and Niculescu seized the opportunity to level the match.

Arruabarrena broke with a superb lob early in the third set and the match swung decisively in her favor.

Niculescu saved one match point, but it was delaying the inevitable and Arruabarrena wrapped up the victory, adding to her win on clay in Bogota four years ago.

WUHAN OPEN

AFP, WUHAN, China

Roberta Vinci downed Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig in the first round of the Wuhan Open yesterday.

Italy’s Vinci took just 1 hour, 20 minutes to defeat the Puerto Rican in two sets, 6-3, 6-3.

Last year’s US Open finalist Vinci — who was responsible for halting Serena Williams’ bid for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam — served eight aces en route to the second round of the hard-court event.

Puig had a fairy-tale run at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, clinching her nation its first ever gold medal and taking her to a career high ranking of 33. She then fell in the first round of the US Open, but made it to the quarter-finals in Tokyo last week, eventually ousted by world No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska.