Osaka beats Kasatkina in Indian Wells to claim 1st WTA title

Williams

Naomi Osaka had just won her first WTA title on Sunday, and was understandably finding it hard to put the achievement into words.

Osaka left a trail of some of the world's best players behind her, following a first-round win over Maria Sharapova with victories over the likes of Agnieszka Radwanaska and Simona Halep.

Kasatkina had beaten the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams to reach the biggest final of her career, but fell short in the battle of the 20-year-olds.

The rising star from Japan won nine of her last 11 games against a fellow 20-year-old in Kasatkina, overpowering her in the return game and holding a 5-2 edge in aces to win in almost 71 minutes.

Though she has never competed in the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global in earnest, Osaka has starred in Singapore before. Kasatkina's backhand is arguably her best shot, particularly her slice.

Osaka was playing her first final in 18 months, with her sole other appearance in a title match coming in the Tokyo Pan Pacific Open in 2016.

Kasatkina found her backhand to force her opponent to serve out the match but Osaka hit the fastest serve of the match - a 118mph ace - on her way to closing out a victory. "I was just also just trying to pump myself up more, to get energy for me". She then defeated reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens in straight sets 6-3 6-4.

The two 20-year-old's began their Indian Wells breakthrough with a fun lesson. I tried also to push a little bit the ball and then to hit it. With Osaka serving for the match, and the biggest win over her career.

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An ace from Osaka in the seventh game saved a break point and the Japanese got the decisive break in the next game. It seems unlikely: the only sign of her nerves and lack of experience surfaced as she lifted the heavy BNP Paribas Open trophy.

Power and aggression do play key roles in Osaka's armoury but it is controlled power and measured aggression. "That was pretty embarrassing".

The hard-hitting 20-year-old showed supreme confidence, wrapping up the match in 64 minutes and avenging her loss to Halep in the fourth round at January's Australian Open.

Florida happens to be Osaka's home, so she will enjoy even greater support than the wave of goodwill she received in Indian Wells.

Juan Martin del Potro keeps surprising himself.

Del Potro became the first Argentine victor in the 42-year history of the desert tournament.

Del Potro recovered to deuce with a forehand victor.

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