OSAKA, Japan — Naomi Osaka won her first singles title since the Australian Open in January by beating Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 in the Toray Pan Pacific final on Sunday.
Enjoying strong support from a parochial crowd, the former No. 1-ranked Osaka dominated the match with her powerful groundstrokes and broke Pavlyuchenkova’s serve twice to take the opening set in 31 minutes.
Top-seeded Osaka didn’t ease off in the second set, denying the Russian any chance of getting a foothold in the match and closed out with an ace.
It is Osaka’s first title in the country of her birth – she lost finals in Tokyo in 2016 and ’18 – and fourth in her career. She won back-to-back majors at the 2018 U.S. Open in 2018 and the Australian Open in January.
TOKYO — Denis Shapovalov put up a near-perfect serving performance to beat Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (3) at the Japan Open.
The seventh-seeded Canadian conceded only one point on his first serve and had 11 aces. Shapovalov, who lost in the semifinals four years ago, will next take on Japanese qualifier Rio Noguchi for a place in the quarterfinals.
“(This was) definitely one of my best serving matches,” Shapovalov said. “I kind of felt like I needed to against Steve . I’m very happy with my serving performance today and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the week.”
Also, Miomir Kecmanovic came back to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, and Kwon Soon-woo defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2.
ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.
The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.
“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”
Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.
“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”
Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.