OSAKA: Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia during the Pan Pacific Open final at the Utsubo Tennis Center on Sunday.—Reuters
OSAKA: Japan’s Naomi Osaka hits a return to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia during the Pan Pacific Open final at the Utsubo Tennis Center on Sunday.—Reuters

OSAKA: Naomi Osaka won her first singles title since the Australian Open in January by beating Russia’s Anastasia Pavly­uchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in the Pan Pacific Open final on Sunday.

Enjoying strong support from a parochial crowd, the former top-ranked Osaka dominated the match with her powerful groundstrokes and broke Pavlyuchenkova’s serve twice to take the opening set in 31 minutes.

Top-seeded Osaka didn’t ease off in the second set, denying the Russian any chance of getting a foothold in the match and closed out with an ace.

It is Osaka’s first title in the country of her birth she lost finals in Tokyo in 2016 and ‘18 and fourth in her career. She won back-to-back majors at the US Open in 2018 and the Australian Open in January.

“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. “I think my serves have been doing really well the last two matches.

“I think that definitely helped me out especially today since she [Pavlyuchenkova] is such a great returner,” added the big-hitting world number four who stormed through the tournament without dropping a set.

At the Korea Open in Seoul, Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic defeated fourth-seeded Magda Linette of Poland in the final. The third-seeded Muchova coasted to the title, overcoming her opponent 6-1, 6-1.

In the opening round of the Wuhan Open, American Danielle Collins overcame former world number one Venus Williams 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).

The 25-year-old will next take on defending champion Aryna Sabalenka who showed power and precision to get past Belarusian compatriot Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1, 6-2.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens also progressed to the second round with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Zhang Shuai while France’s Caroline Garcia outclassed Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-2.

Also reaching the second round were Dayana Yastremska, who beat Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in a rematch of February’s Hua Hin final, and Elena Rybakina who outlasted local hope Zhu Lin 7-5, 2-6, 6-0.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2019