Sport Asia
Don't Miss

Tennis: Japan No. 1 Nara topples top seed to win first WTA title in Rio

Kurumi Nara, 22, won her first WTA title by beating top seed Klara Zakopalova at the Rio Open in Brazil. Photo: Getty Images.

Kurumi Nara, 22, won her first WTA title by beating top seed Klara Zakopalova at the Rio Open in Brazil. Photo: Getty Images.

February 24, 2014: Japan No. 1 Kurumi Nara broke into the world’s top 50 after the 22-year-old won her first WTA singles title by beating top-seeded Klara Zakopalova 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 in the final of the Rio Open in Brazil.

 

Nara – who was in neighbouring Argentina earlier this month competing for Japan’s Fed Cup team – has enjoyed an impressive last six months, but on Sunday she made her biggest breakthrough yet at the US$250,000 event.

 

After coming through the bottom half of the draw, the fifth-seeded Nara toppled Zakopalova to become the first Japanese to win a WTA singles title since Kimiko Date-Krumm in 2009. Nara dominated the 31-year-old Czech in the first set, but missed out on some big opportunities in the second – she was up a break three times – before regrouping to cruise through the third.

 

“She played very well and it was a very tough match for me,” said the diminutive Nara, who stands just five-feet two-inches tall.

 

The Japan No. 1 now says she wants to stay in the world’s top 50 after her breakthrough win. Photo: AFP.

The Japan No. 1 now says she wants to stay in the world’s top 50 after her breakthrough win. Photo: AFP.

“In the second set I was probably thinking too much about winning the title, so after I lost the set I had a good break and tried to come back and play well again in the third. I’m just so happy I could win in the end.”

 

In the last six months, Nara reached the third round at back-to-back Grand Slams at the US Open and Australian Open, as well as her first WTA semi-final at Osaka before securing her first WTA title in her maiden final.

 

Nara said her mother was crying after she won the semi-final, so the youngster was expecting plenty of emotion when she got back to Japan.

 

“I haven’t talked to my mother yet, but I think she’s crying again and I’m sure everyone is really happy,” Nara said. “I’m just very happy right now. I can’t wait to talk to everyone back home.”

 

Nara moved from World No. 62 to No. 48 after the victory, which forced her to quickly adjust her goals for the season.

 

“I can’t believe it. It’s really amazing. I guess now I want to stay in the top 50 this year,” she said. “I try not to think about being No. 1 in Japan. I really just try to focus on my game and my tennis every day. I just try my best every time and now I have my first WTA title. I’m so happy right now.”

 

Nara is the ninth Japanese player to win a WTA title after Kazuko Sawamatsu, Etsuko Inoue, Kumiko Okamoto, Naoko Sawamatsu, Kimiko Date-Krumm, Mana Endo, Ai Sugiyama and Akiko Morigami. Date-Krumm has the most with eight and last won at Seoul in 2009.

 

In Rio, Irina-Camelia Begu and María Irigoyen beat Johanna Larsson and Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 6-0 in the doubles final on Saturday. It was the Romanian-Argentine duo’s first WTA doubles title together. Begu now has three doubles titles, while Irigoyen won her first WTA title of any kind.

 

Rio Open, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Results – Sunday, February 23, 2014

 

Singles – Final


(5) Kurumi Nara (JPN) d. (1) Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 61 46 61

 

Doubles – Final (played Saturday)


Begu/Irigoyen (ROU/ARG) d. Larsson/Scheepers (SWE/RSA) 62 60

 

Source: WTA

You must be logged in to post a comment Login