Osaka’s first title
20 March, 2018, 12:00 am
JAPAN’S Naomi Osaka claimed her first career title with a commanding 6-3 6-2 victory over Russian Daria Kasatkina in a battle of 20-year-olds at the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.
The unseeded Haitian-Japanese player became the youngest Indian Wells champion since Ana Ivanovic was victorious a decade ago. She dropped only one set in the tournament.
Osaka ousted Maria Sharapova, fifth seed Karolina Pliskova and then world number one Simona Halep in the semi-finals on her way to the championship.
She won the final three games of the first set, then dominated the second, needing only 70 minutes for the win.
“If you put in a lot of hard work you can play well,” said Osaka, who was playing in only her second final after being the runner-up in Tokyo in 2016. “If you try and believe in yourself, you can win.”
After several unforced errors to open the first set, the youngster, who resides in the United States, took control of the tie.
She won five consecutive games from 3-3 in the first before Kasatkina got on the scoreboard in the second.
Up 5-2, Osaka closed out the match with a backhand winner.
“She probably wasn’t going to give me any balls so I just had to stay very consistent,” Osaka said.
Using her explosive power, Osaka delivered 23 winners to Kasatkina’s 10 and won 79 percent on her first serve.