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Tennis

Naomi Osaka wins inaugural Pan Pacific Open in Osaka

After beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the world number four felt the backing of her hometown was crucial after the tournament moved from Tokyo.

Naomi Osaka wins inaugural Pan Pacific Open in Osaka
JIJI EFE

Naomi Osaka cruised past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-3 to claim her maiden Pan Pacific Open title, a homecoming victory she hailed as "special".

World number four Osaka had previously finished as runner up in the tournament in 2016 and 2018, when the WTA event was held in Tokyo.

However, a switch to the 21-year-old's birthplace Osaka did the trick, with the top seed bouncing back from the disappointment of her round of 16 exit in the US Open in style.

Having not won a trophy since securing her second successive grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, Osaka powered past the world number 41 in straight sets on Sunday.

"It's really special for me to win here," Osaka, who won 100 per cent of her first service points, said.

"This is the city where I was born and honestly I think that gave me a lot of power to play constantly match after match. I just want to say thank you to everyone.

"I just love playing here, so I'll be here next year, though it's probably going to be in Tokyo."

Osaka made her intentions of sealing a swift victory clear from the off, racing into a 2-0 lead as Pavlyuchenkova failed to cope with the former world number one's powerful serves.

A superb lob ended a frenetic rally to make it 5-2 - a Pavlyuchenkova error then handing Osaka the set in the next game.

Another early break followed for Osaka in set two and, despite Pavlyuchenkova saving three break points before holding off two match points, victory was ensured when the Russian clipped into the net.

Osaka's triumph is her first on Japanese soil, while she became the first home player to win the Pan Pacific Open since Kimiko Date in 1995.