TOKYO (Reuters) – Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki continued her revival by brushing aside Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-3 on Sunday to win the Pan Pacific Open for the second time and secure her first title of the year.
Hampered by injuries, the 26-year-old Dane slumped to number 74 in the world at the end of August and looked like going through a season without a title for the first time since 2007, sparking rumors retirement might be on the horizon.
She again looked in trouble after losing her serve for the second time in the opening set on Sunday but proved almost unstoppable after receiving treatment on her upper thigh and wrapped up her 24th career title in 106 minutes.
“It’s a final, both of us have had a great week, I just wanted to go out there and have fun and try and play well,” Wozniacki said in a courtside interview after adding a second title to her 2010 triumph.
“I’m just enjoying it, you never know when injuries are going to happen and you are going to be taken away from the game, so I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”
Wildcard Osaka, playing her first WTA tour final, simply crumbled as Wozniacki raced away with the second set and only mustered up any real resistance when she was 5-0 down.
It was some resistance, though, as the 18-year-old unleashed the thunderous serve and explosive groundstrokes that saw off two top 20 players on her run to the final this week.
Ultimately, though, Wozniacki’s experience of playing the big moments — she converted five of her six break points in the match compared to three of nine for Osaka — proved decisive.
While Osaka, who will move into the top 50 on the back of her run at the Ariake Coliseum, was crestfallen, Wozniacki predicted great things for the teenager.
“She’s been playing really good and is going to be a great player and is already rising up the rankings so fast,” she said.
“I have no doubt we’re going to see her in many, many more finals.”
Wozniacki, who rose to number 28 in the world after reaching the semi-finals of the U.S. Open earlier this month, will move another four or five spots closer to the top 20 on the back of her first title since Kuala Lumpur in March last year.
And if she is indeed planning to retire, it looks like she will play on at least until September 2017.
“This is a great tournament,” she said. “I can’t wait to be back next year.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by John O’Brien)