Osaka downs top seed Barty to win China Open after halting Andreescu's win streak
Japanese tennis star overcomes shaky start Sunday to capture second straight final
A surging Naomi Osaka won her second consecutive final with a three-set victory over top-seeded Ashleigh Barty at the China Open on Sunday.
Osaka bounced back from a set down to cruise through the final sets, defeating the Australian top seed 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and accomplishing her goal of returning to winning form on the tour's Asian leg.
The win follows the two-time Grand Slam winner's victory last month at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in her birthplace of Osaka, Japan, her first singles title since the Australian Open in January.
On Friday, Osaka defeated Bianca Andreescu 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in a three-set thriller to advance to the semifinals while putting an end to the Canadian's 17-match winning streak.
Japan's dominant player came into the tour's swing through Asia determined to make a statement following what she has called an on-and-off year that included a string of dismal performances in Europe and America.
WATCH | Naomi Osaka beats top-ranked Barty for China Open title:
Motivated by mid-year 'dip'
"For me, this was my goal. After I lost in the U.S. Open ... I really meditated on it. It just feels like I accomplished what I set out to do," Osaka said.
The mid-year "dip" in her performance "really humbled me, and it made me very motivated to be here right now," she said.
Osaka's shaky start on Sunday included a trio of double faults midway through the first set that helped put the French Open champion in the driver's seat.
The second and third sets were an entirely different story, however, with Osaka bringing her service game under control and pounding her returns down the line. After breaking Barty in the seventh game, victory was all but assured, despite an attempted comeback by the Queensland native in match's final minutes.
WATCH | Andreescu winning streak comes to an end:
Known as a big-hitter, fourth-seeded Osaka seemed to benefit particularly from the cool, dry nighttime conditions, with temperatures hovering around 15 C. Barty said the "sterile" conditions nullified the zippiness of her slice and reduced the variety of shots she was able to deploy.
"Little half-chances that I wasn't able to grab tonight, but I think all-in-all I think it was a solid performance and I'm just proud of the way we were able to fight and kind of grow through the week," she told reporters.
Uses anger towards father as tool to win
Osaka, who has described her game as instinctual, said she didn't know whether the conditions benefited her style of play, saying she paid little attention to such matters, an attitude that extends to her view of statistics and rankings.
"I'm not really too much of an analyst, so I can't say whether the colder conditions helped me," she said.
She also said she was grateful for the low-key presence of her stand-in coach, her father Leonard Francois, but said that arrangement wasn't permanent.
"He annoys me so much that it makes me angry and I use the anger as a tool to win," Osaka said. Watching her matches "stresses him out," she added. "I don't think it's a long term thing."
The victory evens the record between the pair to two-a-piece in their four meetings on tour.
5th-ranked Thiem takes men's final
In the men's final, top-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem beat Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Fifth-ranked Thiem recorded his fourth title in a season where the 26-year-old has defeated both Roger Federer and top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
He called the match against the third-seeded Tsitsipas one of the best of his career and said his early departure from the U.S. Open had left him "fresher than ever" for the later part of the season.
"Just trying to keep the momentum going," Thiem said.
WATCH | Dominic Thiem captures 4th title of season: