Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka captured her first career WTA title Sunday at one of the tour’s biggest tournaments, the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., defeating another up-and-coming 20-year-old, Daria Kasatkina, 6-3, 6-2, in the final.
Osaka knocked off an impressive list of opponents en route to the title, defeating five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in the first round, former world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round, No. 5 Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals and No. 1 Simona Halep in the semifinals. She dropped only one set in the tournament – a 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari of Greece in the fourth round.
Here’s more on the rising young talent, whose world ranking skyrocketed 22 spots from No. 44 to No. 22 with her Indian Wells victory.
The Naomi Osaka File
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan
Current Rank: 22
Career-High Rank: 22 (March 2018)
Best US Open Finish: 3rd Round (2016, 2017)
- Osaka is the first player to win her first WTA title at Indian Wells since Daniela Hantuchova in 2002. She also joins Serena Williams (1999) and Kim Clijsters (2005) as the only three unseeded champions at the event.
- Osaka stunned women’s defending champion Angelique Kerber, 6-3, 6-1, in the opening round of last year’s US Open for her first Top 10 win. The 20-year-old has made two main-draw appearances in New York to date, reaching the third round in both 2016 and 2017.
- Osaka is coached by Sascha Bajin, a former hitting partner of Serena Williams. Since the two started working together in December, Osaka has won Indian Wells, posted a career-best Grand Slam result (fourth round) at the Australian Open in January and reached the quarterfinals at Dubai last month.
- Osaka's breakthrough year came in 2016, when she reached her first WTA final in Tokyo, advanced to the third round at three Grand Slam tournaments – the Australian Open, Roland Garros and the US Open – and was voted the WTA Newcomer of the Year.
- Osaka's mother is from Japan and her father is from Haiti. She was born in Osaka, Japan, and now lives in Boca Raton, Fla.
They Said It!
"I was extremely stressed and extremely nervous, but my plan was to fake that I'm very calm," Osaka said after the Indian Wells final.