In Osaka, Naomi Osaka wins first title since Australian Open

In Osaka, Naomi Osaka wins first title since Australian Open

The top-seeded Japanese defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets to capture her first title on home soil.

Naomi Osaka captured her first title since the Australian Open on home soil on Sunday, outslugging Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the Toray Pan Pacific Open in her birthplace of Osaka, Japan.

Having finished runner-up in her first two finals at the Premier-level event—to Caroline Wozniacki in 2016 and Karolina Pliskova in 2018—Osaka was on her game from start to finish this time, losing just three points in the first three games to race out to a 3-0 lead and eventually building a 6-2, 4-1 lead.

Pavlyuchenkova dug out two tough service games late in the match, fighting off break points to hold for 4-2 and 5-3, but Osaka served it out at love to clinch the title after just 69 minutes, 6-2, 6-3.

Osaka’s service numbers for the match were devastating—she won all 20 points on her first serve and 16 of 22 points on her second serve. She didn’t even go to deuce once in nine service games.

“I just wanted to say it’s really special for me to win here,” Osaka said afterwards. “This is the city where I was born, and honestly I think that gave me the power to play constantly, match after match. It rained a lot for a couple of days so I want to thank everyone for helping to organize the tournament.

“I just love playing here, so I’ll see you guys again next year.”

Going into this year’s Toray Pan Pacific Open, Osaka was in a bit of a drought—in nearly eight months since winning her second straight Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, she’d reached the quarterfinals or better at five of the 12 tournaments she’d played, but no finals or titles.

She changed all of that this past week, though, not just cruising through to the final without losing a set, but then beating Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, too—she’s actually the first player to win the Premier-level event without dropping a set since Agnieszka Radwanska in 2015. She also became just the second Japanese champion in the tournament’s 37-year history after Kimiko Date in 1995.

Osaka lifted the fourth WTA title of her career, having previously won two Grand Slam titles at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open, as well as a Premier Mandatory at Indian Wells last year.

 

Pavlyuchenkova had taken out No. 2 seed Kiki Bertens and No. 4 seed Angelique Kerber en route to the final before falling to the No. 1-seeded Osaka. A former World No. 13, the Russian came into Osaka ranked No. 41 - she’s projected to bounce back into the Top 40 now at approximately No. 36.

“It’s still been an amazing week for me here in Osaka,” she said. “But I have to say congratulations to Naomi - she played really great tennis today, better than me, so this was very well deserved.”

Osaka’s next tournament will be the Premier Mandatory-level China Open in Beijing in a week’s time. Pavlyuchenkova will play this week’s Premier 5 in Wuhan - she opens against American Sofia Kenin.