Naomi Osaka claimed the first WTA Tour title of her career with victory over Russia's Daria Kasatkina in the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Kasatkina, who won her only career title in Charleston a year ago and reached the final in Dubai last month, had the edge in big-match experience. She left ranked No. 22 and with a $1.3 million check, almost double her career earnings.
Osaka needed just 70 minutes to dispatch No. 19 Kasatkina, who had an equally impressive showing in the desert. She will be ranked No. 22 on Monday; Kasatkina will be No. 11.
Osaka has enjoyed a stunning fortnight in California as she beat Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep to reach Sunday's final. "I think we were both nervous at the beginning, because [this was our] biggest finals so far".
Kasatkina was surprisingly putting in a lackluster performance and she was slow in her movement, with Osaka exploiting that aspect with her powerful play. "She's hitting her forehand, backhand, so she's really tough".
"I felt like it would be better for her to take my pace". "I just started saying whatever came into my mind first, which is why I think I kept stopping halfway through my sentences, because I just remembered something else I had to say".
"I just really wanted to get a lot of balls back, because in Australia I made too many unforced errors, and be really consistent on her return and not to give her any free points", Osaka said.
"I was just trying to play consistent this whole tournament and to beat someone like her with the score line like this, I think I've sort of done what I've meant to do, so I'm really happy about that", Osaka said. My coach Philippe, my brother Alex, my fitness coach isn't here but still I love him so much. She then defeated reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens in straight sets 6-3 6-4.More news: Thakur, Pandey star as India beats Sri Lanka in tri-series T20
Osaka is the youngest champion in Indian Wells since Ana Ivanovic (20 years, 138 days) won in 2008. During the match, she was able to manage her nerves and stuff, and I was still a little bit tight. Kasatkina held at 5-2 but won just one point on Osaka's final service game.
But she will need to practice on her acceptance speeches.
"I wasn't really trying to hit hard today", said Osaka, who was born in Osaka, Japan, but is a dual citizen after living in America since the age of three.
Afterward, she admitted, "That was pretty embarrassing". With Osaka serving for the match, and the biggest win over her career.
Both players are 20-years-old.
She told reporters: "I was extremely stressed and extremely nervous".
Del Potro survived three-setters against countryman Leonardo Mayer in the fourth round and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals.