Naomi Osaka has capped a dream fortnight in Indian Wells to walk away with the first WTA title of her burgeoning career.
Osaka brushed aside Daria Kasatkina in just 70 minutes to claim the trophy, unofficially regarded as the most prestigious prize outside of the four Grand Slam events.
The Japanese star won eight of nine games to build a 6-3 5-1 lead, and served out the match two games later – helped by an ace and a swinging volley winner – to triumph 6-3 6-2.
In a battle between two 20 years olds, Osaka was the fresher and more composed, taking advantage of a lacklustre performance from the young Russian, who was perhaps feeling the effects of her three-set marathon against Venus Williams in the semifinals.
Osaka, meanwhile, had thrashed world No.1 Simona Halep for the loss of just three games in the semifinals, and en route to the title also beat Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska and No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova.
“I would like to thank Dasha for being super nice and also being a really cool person to play against,” Osaka said.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to play a lot of finals again.”
— WTA (@WTA) March 18, 2018
Osaka’s victory had people scrambling for the stats sheet to see how her unlikely run to the title stacked up in the history archives.
She’s the lowest-ranked player to ever win a Premier Mandatory-level title – a classification that’s existed since 2009 – and she’s the youngest to do so since Caroline Wozniacki triumphed in Beijing in 2010.
Having begun the year ranked 68th and currently ranked 44th, Osaka will rise to world No.22.
Kasatkina – who revealed she and Osaka will share a private jet flight to Florida for the upcoming Miami Open – will vault to world No.11.
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