Naomi Osaka had a dream ending to her career week at Indian Wells, winning the title with a comfortable straight sets win over Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-2. She will be just outside the top 20 when the new rankings are released, a career high for the Japanese.
After falling down a break in the opening game of the match, it was all Osaka from then on. She broke back immediately before gaining the all important break when up 4-3. Her ability to hit winners from anywhere was showcased throughout the match, with the break coming from a flashy backhand down the line winner. “It was hard for me to get my nerves in check in the first game, especially since — I don’t know why I decided to serve first,” Osaka said “We were playing some long points, and I wasn’t really trying to hit hard today, because I felt like it would be better for her to take my pace.
Osaka dropped just three points on serve in the second set, two of them coming on double faults. She broke to begin the set thanks to a Kasatkina double fault and added the insurance break for 4-1, putting away a vicious forehand winner – one of 23 overall.
The Russian was full of praise for her opponent, who won her very first title with this victory. “Basically she was much better today than me, so she really deserved to win,” she said. “I think we were both nervous at the beginning, because [this was our] biggest finals so far. During the match, she was able to manage her nerves and stuff, and I was still a little bit tight. She’s very powerful. She’s playing, serving good, and doesn’t have weaknesses. She’s hitting her forehand, backhand, so she’s really tough.”
Osaka misses out on a seeding for Miami, meaning she begins her tournament without a first round bye. Her first opponent will be Serena Williams. Given her form over the past fortnight and the big names she has beaten, Osaka should be full of confidence when she plays the former No.1.