Pliskova pummels tearful Osaka to bag Tokyo title

Sherman Parsons
September 26, 2018

Naomi Osaka's dominant run came to end on Sunday in a 6-4, 6-4 loss to fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Pan Pacific Open.

It ended Osaka's 10-match winning streak and handed Pliskova - now ranked eighth in the world, one place below Osaka - the 11th major tour title of her career. "As I am feeling very exhausted today, maybe I wasn't doing the little things well".

The U.S. Open champion, who upset Serena Williams in the final in NY, overpowered her unseeded opponent and will face fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova in Sunday's final.

Pliskova and Osaka had split their previous two meetings, but the hometown hero started the Tokyo meeting as the favourite after her historic NY triumph.

The third seed began in menacing fashion, thumping an ace down the middle on the first point and holding her first two service games to love.

Both players are in the top 10 in terms of number of aces served on the tour this year.

Osaka looked in complete control against Giorgi throughout her match breaking the Italian's serve twice in each set to reach her third final of the year in just 71 minutes, having not dropped a set all week.

However, Pliskova slowly turned the screws and broke for 3-2 with a fizzing backhand that her opponent swished well wide.

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"I didn't want to try to overpower her because she just has more power than me", said Pliskova.

Sensing blood, Pliskova broke for 5-4 after a poor Osaka drop-shot gifted her an easy put-away.

Osaka is the latest player to pull out of the Wuhan Open following former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who will also miss the tournament due to a viral illness.

Currently just outside the top eight qualifying places for the WTA Finals in Singapore, Pliskova has now spent 420 minutes on court in Tokyo compared to 222 minutes for Osaka.

For Pliskova, it was a first tournament victory since Stuttgart in April - and the first since marrying long-time partner Michal Hrdlicka in the summer.

Pliskova, the world No. 8, said she had adjusted her tactics based on her previous two meetings with Osaka.

A tearful Osaka could barely bring herself to speak at the trophy presentation.

"I've never felt more exhausted in my entire life", she said, admitting that a much-needed rest was in order. "The chances of me playing in the next tournament are very low".

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