Naomi Osaka thoroughly outclassed Petra Kvitova in the WTA Finals opener Shenzhen, China on Sunday. The Japanese World No. 3 won a three-set marathon 7-6 (7/1), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 39 minutes.
The win was Osaka’s first victory at the USD 14 million WTA Finals after a winless campaign in her debut appearance last year. She has now stretched her current winning streak to 11 matches having claimed titles in Osaka and Beijing. “She started going hard at me from the beginning and I just had to adjust to it,” Osaka said after the match.
World No. 6 Kvitova came out with positive intent but stuttered in the eighth game of the opening set to squander three double faults.
Osaka held off two break points in the ninth game before dominating the tiebreak to draw first blood. That sequence of play seemed to shake the Czech’s confidence but Kvitova successfully managed to claw back in the second set.
Osaka then focussed back on the task at hand in the decider but could not convert two match points in the eighth game before finally closing it out in the 10th to issue a statement to her rivals in Red Group.
The event’s move to China, after a five-year run in Singapore, is highlighted by a record prize pool in tennis with the winner receiving up to USD 4.725 million.