HIROSHIMA: Japan's Nao Hibino beat compatriot and doubles partner Misaki Doi 6-3 6-2 at the Hana-cupid Japan Women's Open in Hiroshima on Sunday (Sep 15) to win her first WTA title since 2015.
The two unseeded players were playing in the first all-Japanese WTA Tour final in 22 years and Hibino, who ousted top seed Hsieh Su-Wei in the quarter-finals, wrapped up the contest in 68 minutes.
Although Doi broke early twice in the opening set to take a 3-1 lead, Hibino stormed back into the tie to win the next nine games to swing the momentum her way.
"I was so nervous today, so much more than the semi-finals," Hibino said. "But because I experienced being nervous in the semi-finals, I knew what to expect. I was able to stay positive during the match today."
Hibino broke Doi seven times in the match and won 71per cent of her first service points to win her second career title since her maiden win at the Tashkent Open four years ago.
Doi made 14 unforced errors in the opening set alone and did not recover until going down 4-0 in the second set.
"She was playing well. Today, she was persistent," Doi said. "She has a strong backhand but she was also using her forehand to structure points well, giving me very little chance to play my game.
"I learned to believe in my own game and never give up this week. What I learned will be useful as I head to Osaka."
Doi did not go home empty handed, though, as she teamed up with Hibino to beat Christina McHale and Valeria Savinykh 3-6 6-4 10-4 in the doubles final.
"I've watched Misaki struggle with a drop in her ranking and have been happy to watch her get her ranking up," Hibino added.
"I think hard work has paid off for both of us because we are both in the finals of this tournament in Japan."
Both players will crack into the top 100 when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday.