Toray PPO Tennis, Japan
Championship Match:  Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs.  Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
Their head-to-head was dead even at 1:1 coming into the final, with Osaka winning their most recent encounter. There are a lot of similarities in their games with a couple of glaring differences: Osaka is a major champion and she is a much better mover. While they both have powerful serves, Osaka is riding a wave of confidence and Pliskova is searching a bit to find the top form that saw her get to the US Open final a few years ago.
Yet, there is always the great equalizer of pressure. How would Osaka perform in the final of her hometown tournament now that she is a major champion and much more is expected of her, every time she steps on court? So far this tournament, Osaka had played brilliant tennis and seemed extremely composed. Today’s final tested that composure.
She was not composed, errors flew off her racquet a result of the tension in her body. She had opportunities to possibly force break points but every time she had a lead (0-30), she lost her accuracy. Or perhaps it was the result of Pliskova increasing her focus and preventing her opponent from getting to break point. It was probably a combination of both; however, with more emphasis on Osaka feeling the pressure of expectation.
Pliskova captured her second singles tournament of the season, her first since April. This will probably feel extra special since she is finally beginning to see some positive results from the renovation of her game. She never is one to be openly expressive on court; thus, it is often hard to tell what she is feeling or thinking. Yet, make no mistake she is just as competitive as her opponents and she wants to win just as badly. The 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Osaka gives the Czech a nice start to the Asian swing.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: Zimbio.com (Koji Watanabe/Getty Images AsiaPac: Karolina Pliskova)