World No. 44 Naomi Osaka Routs No. 1 Simona Halep To Reach BNP Paribas Open Final
(March 16, 2018) World No. 44 Naomi Osaka dominated No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania 6-3, 6-0 in 63 minutes to reach the BNP Paribas Open final on Friday night. The unseeded Osaka, from Japan will play in her first premier mandatory event final on the WTA Tour against another 20-year-old, Daria Kasatkina of Russia who beat Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Osaka dominated the match right from the start. She broke Halep’s serve five times during the match, and saved six of seven break points against her.
“I didn’t want to look too much on the other side of the court, because I felt then I would lose my focus,” said the winner.
“But I was a little bit surprised, especially, like, the start of the second set. Because I feel like she gave me three free points, but I didn’t try to think too much about it.”
“I just really tried to be consistent,” was one of the things she was pleased with during the match. “I think in Australia I just made way too many mistakes, and I sort of handed her the match.
“So I just tried to be a little bit annoying and return a lot.”
“I didn’t feel the ball at all,” said Halep. “I couldn’t concentrate. I was out of the game today.”
“I’m not used to play that late, this tournament I didn’t play. So it was long day to wait, to play, but we were in the same position. So I just was not ready.”
“I tried to do the best things,” Halep added. “I did. I just lost today.
“She was better. She was more prepared. And she was, you know, ready to play and ready to win the match. I was not.”
Despite the drubbing, Halep takes away positives from Indian Wells – “Well, the big positive is that I played semis after so many weeks off, after a tough injury.
“So I’m not going to destroy this tournament just for this match. It is tough, of course, but I will shake it off and tomorrow is a new day, for sure.”
With both Indian Wells finalist being 20-years-old Halep was asked is she was surprised. “Not really,” she said. “Because Osaka is a strong player and she’s playing really well. I played in Melbourne against her, so I knew that she can make a good match.
“Also Kasatkina is playing well here, helps everything for her, because she’s rolling the ball very well. She’s playing with topspin.
“So both of them deserve to be in the final.”
“I think it’s easier at the beginning (of your career), because you have no pressure and you play without thinking that much, because you are in the semis, you are 20 years old.”
“Well, I feel like it’s going to be really interesting, because she kind of plays a completely different game than me, and I think we’re both in the final of this type of tournament for the first time, ” Osaka said about playing in the final. So it’s going to be fun, I think.”
Osaka hit 16 winners to 20 unforced errors to Halep’s 16 winners to 27 unforced errors. Osaka won 60 total points in the match to Halep’s 43.
Osaka was asked about how it feels to be in the final of this tournament: “Well, it feels a little bit lonely, because there’s, like, nobody here. Like, I’m kind of — like, as it goes on, there is less players and stuff. It’s kind of cool, but also a little bit, like, sad because then you’re not around the people that you talk to and stuff.
“But other than that, it’s cool. Because then, like, all the sushi, there is still a lot of sushi left and stuff.”
Osaka is looking to become just the third unseeded player to win the Indian Wells event. In 1999 Serena Williams won the tournament unseeded as well as Kim Clijsters in 2005.
I feel like there is a new generation, and we’re trying to push through.
This will be Osaka’s second career WTA final. She lost to Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo final in 2016.