Naomi Osaka prevailed in a battle of 20-year-olds in the final of the 2018 BNP Paribas Open as she defeated fellow youngster Daria Kasatkina in the biggest match of their respective careers, winning her first-ever WTA title at the Premier Mandatory event. Osaka dropped just one set in seven matches, knocking off two-time victor Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Karolina Pliskova and top-ranked Simona Halep against whom she won the last nine games of the match.
Osaka will rise to a career-high No. 22 in Monday's WTA Tour rankings.
Osaka needed just 70 minutes to dispatch No. 19 Kasatkina, who had an equally impressive showing in the desert.
She earned $1,340,860 for the victory, almost double her career winnings of $1,483,053. "Of course, we were both nervous at the beginning, because the biggest finals so far".
BC-TEN-Osaka Rising, 477 Naomi Osaka on her way up with first pro tennis titleAP Photo IDW101, IDW107, IDW105, IDW109, IDW110Eds: With AP Photos. Kasatkina's backhand is arguably her best shot, particularly her slice.
Naomi Osaka defeats Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-2.
"I wasn't that aggressive, " Osaka said.
Del Potro lost just six points on his serve in the first set.
Juan Martin Del Potro saved two match points en route to victory over Roger Federer at Indian Wells, ending the Swiss' ideal record in 2018 and clinching his first ATP Masters title at the BNP Paribas Open.
Federer advances to quarter-finals; Halep reaches semifinals
At 15-0, the world's top-ranked men's player is off to his best start since 2006. "It has been great. But Federer's serve was so bang-on that the World #100 never even got a sniff at a break point.
"Basically she was much better today than me, so she really deserved to win", Kasatkina said. "I was just more consistent".
The opening set was even until Osaka blasted two aces to take a 4-3 lead.
The 20-year-old is the youngest champion at Indian Wells since Ana Ivanovic in 2008. I tried also to push a little bit the ball and then to hit it.
She won five consecutive games from 3-3 in the first before Kasatkina got on the scoreboard in the second. A victory in Sunday's final would move her into the top 10.
Osaka has impressed a lot this week with her mental fortitude throughout the tournament, but admitted that she had to keep a calm façade.
But she said she never had felt more nervous.
"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.
Florida happens to be Osaka's home, so she will enjoy even greater support than the wave of goodwill she received in Indian Wells.
Del Potro became the first Argentine victor in the 42-year history of the desert tournament. It was his first win against Federer since last year's U.S. Open quarters.