Japan Women’s Open Tennis, Tokyo
Women’s Final:  Zarina Diyas (KAZ) vs.  Miyu Kato (JPN)
It was not a major; however, it was just as important to these two players (a chance to win their first singles title) and understandably, they were both nervous. Diyas had more experience than her opponent and adjusted much quicker to the occasion. While it’s rare to win your first major title as your first career singles title (Jelena Ostapenko); most players really believe in their game once they claim their first singles title. That step is essential in their maturation as a player; it reinforces their belief that they have sufficient game to win titles. While no player goes on court believing they can’t win, on a subconscious level many have some doubt that they will actually win.
It’s a constant battle for many players, dealing with self-doubts as well as combatting the opponent across the net from them. Kato struggled with the tension of the occasion as well as the power of her opponent. Kato’s biggest weapon was her mobility; however, against the attacking style of her opponent, it was not sufficient and she was constantly playing catch-up. The first set was over before she realized what had happened. Now the doubts began to increase, “do I have enough game to defeat this opponent?” Although she was stoic, there was evidence that she was concerned.
The second set was a better effort from the Japanese player, but I never got the sense she could defeat Diyas. Her shots had no sting and she did nothing to make her opponent uncomfortable. Diyas broke first in the set, but Kato broke back to get back on serve; however, at 5-5 Kato cracked under the constant pressure of working so hard to hold her serve. Diyas served it out easily and claimed her first singles career title with the 6-2, 7-5 defeat of Kato.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: Creative Commons (Kato in yellow hat)/Bing Search (Diyas with trophy).