Tennis

Naomi Osaka overcomes world No. 1 Ash Barty to win fifth title

Kyodo

Japan’s Naomi Osaka came from a set down to beat French Open champion and world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty on Sunday and win the China Open.

It was Osaka’s fifth career championship, following her victory in last month’s Toray Pan Pacific Open. The 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win evened her career record against the Australian at 2-2.

“I was telling myself to keep fighting even though my attitude was really trash,” said Osaka, whom Barty succeeded as No. 1 this summer. “This is a final. I’m really privileged to be here in the first place, so keep fighting.”

Osaka rolled through her first two service games, but couldn’t nail her serves in the sixth game. After Barty held serve in a tough fifth game, she broke Osaka in the next game after six deuces. Both players then held serve with Barty clinching the first set with an ace.

With a towel over head at the changeover, Osaka got a pep talk from her father and coach Leonard Francois, and then blasted through her first service game.

The second set’s break also came in the sixth game, Barty hitting long to hand Osaka a 4-2 lead, and Osaka then narrowly held her serve to clinch the set.

Osaka then kept the pedal to the metal, starting the third set with a service break, and remained calm while Barty struggled with errors.

“I was not as calm as I usually am,” Osaka said. “I think I threw my racket. I just wanted to win here.”

Prior to winning the Toray Pan Pacific, Osaka’s victories had come at the most elite level, at the Indian Wells Masters, the U.S. Open and Australian Open.