RIO DE JANEIRO – Kurumi Nara won her first career title on the WTA tour on Sunday, when she defeated Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic in the final of the Rio Open.
The 22-year-old Nara, the fifth seed, beat Zakopalova, the top seed, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 after squandering several good chances to put the match away in the second set. The victory was the first for a Japanese woman since Kimiko Date-Krumm won the Korea Open in September 2009.
“She played very well and it was a very tough match for me,” Nara said, according to wtatennis.com. “In the second set I was probably thinking too much about winning the title, so after I lost the set I had a good break and tried to come back and play well again in the third set. I’m just so happy I could win in the end today.”
Nara, who reached the third round this year in her Australian Open debut, clinched the title at the Jockey Club Brasiliero, despite playing on clay. Two weeks earlier, she lost twice on clay in Buenos Aires, when Japan was trounced 3-1 by Argenitna in the Fed Cup.
“I can’t believe it myself. It hasn’t quite hit me yet,” said Nara. “I’ve been getting more practice on clay courts in Japan, and it paid off.”
The victory saw Nara, move up from 62nd to 48th in the world rankings.