Two-time 21-year-old grand slam champion Ōsaka Naomi has won her second straight WTA title after a fightback from a set down to beat Australian number one Ashleigh Barty 3-6 6-3 6-2 in the final of the China Open in Beijing on Sunday.
It was the world's number (4) four third (3) title of 2019 and second title in a row after clinching the Pan Pacific Open in Japan last month and she is yet to lose a match since her fourth-round exit at the U.S. Open, extending her run to 10 victories.
The battle between Osaka and Ash lasted for close to two hours in a heated encounter as both women were chasing the third and second title in 2019 respectively with Barty being the reigning French Open champion. However, Osaka came on top after a fightback. This victory marks Osaka's second win over a fellow Grand Slam champion at the tournament after beating U.S. Open winner Bianca Andreescu in another three-setter in the quarter-finals.
The opening set went with serve until Osaka made three double faults in one game to give Barty a 4-2 lead, after which the Australian served out the set, saving a breakpoint along the way. "Basically I was telling myself to keep fighting even though my attitude was really trash - 'this is a final, I'm really privileged to be here in the first place, so keep fighting!'" Osaka said.
"I feel like I wasn't that calm here (at the tournament). I threw my racket, like, once every match. I really wanted to win here, I felt like I had something to prove."
The Japanese turned the tables in the second set when she broke back to take a 4-2 lead. At 30-all, she unleashed a backhand return to bring up the fourth breakpoint and then forced Barty to hit her forehand long.
Osaka did not concede a single breakpoint in the second set and took it into the decider after closing out on her serve.
She then upped the tempo right from the opening game of the third set with long-baseline rallies which forced Barty into making mistakes, earning the fourth seed a break of serve.
A poor service game from Barty when she was down 4-2 in the third saw her broken to love as Osaka won eight points in a row to take a 5-2 lead and serve for the title. Barty managed to save one match point in the final game but Osaka took to the baseline again to out-rally her opponent, wrapping up the encounter and levelling their head-to-head record at 2-2.