Naomi Osaka earns thrilling victory over Petra Kvitova in opening match of WTA Finals
Naomi Osaka won her first ever match at the WTA Finals with a thrilling three-set win over Petra Kvitova in Shenzhen.
The opening match of the tournament was a rematch of the Australian Open final this year, which Osaka won in three sets, and she did the same here with a 7-6 4-6 6-4 victory.
Kvitova’s aggressive style of play produced some exhilarating rallies but eventually Osaka’s consistency and terrific backhand paid dividends.
Osaka had expected a tough encounter and Kvitova showed exactly why in the opening game by immediately breaking the Japanese and had two further break points in Osaka’s next service game.
But somehow the 22-year-old held on with the help of her serve and kept on track till the start of the eighth game. The Czech, who hadn’t lost a point on her first serve to that point, served three double-faults and allowed Osaka to break back.
The quality of tennis kept rising as they got to a tiebreak but then the errors started to rattle off Kvitova’s racket and Osaka took the first set by making just eight unforced errors, compared to Kvitova’s 24.
The second set started in a similar fashion to the first, as Kvitova broke right at the start by continuing to be aggressive, but Osaka broke twice instantaneously to lead 3-2 as the backhand return was proving to be brilliant.
But the two-time WImbledon champion Kvitova broke back due to a slight lack of concentration from Osaka and she took the match to a deciding set by converting her second set point.
Osaka last lost a three-set match against Belinda Bencic in Madrid in the summer of this year, and her formidable 16-3 record over three sets this year told, with her breaking early on.
Osaka’s serve worked phenomenally throughout the match, as her 12 aces showed, and despite Kvitova saving two match points, Osaka held on and opened her Red Group campaign with a victory.