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Nara Wins First WTA Title In Rio

Fast-rising Japanese No.1 Kurumi Nara battled past Klara Zakopalova to win the inaugural Rio Open on Sunday. She is the ninth Japanese player ever to win a WTA title - who are the first eight?

Published February 23, 2014 12:12

Nara Wins First WTA Title In Rio
Kurumi Nara

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Kurumi Nara has been fast on the rise over the last six months and on Sunday she made her biggest breakthrough yet, winning her first WTA title at the inaugural Rio Open.

After coming through the bottom half of the draw, the No.5-seeded Nara capped a dream week with a 61 46 61 win over No.1-seeded Klara Zakopalova in the final, missing out on some big opportunities in the second set - she was up a break three times - but regrouping and cruising through the third set.

"She played very well and it was a very tough match for me," Nara said. "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 set. I'm just so happy I could win in the end today."

Nara's last six months have seen her reach the third round at back-to-back Grand Slams at the US Open and Australian Open, her first WTA semifinal at Osaka, and now her first WTA title in Rio.

Nara's mother was crying after she reached the final - how will the reaction be back home now?

"I haven't talked to my mother yet but I think she's crying again! And I'm sure everyone is really happy," Nara commented. "I'm just very happy right now. I can't wait to talk to everyone back home."

After being told she would break the Top 50 now, Nara was elated - and stepped up her goals.

"I can't believe it! I guess now I want to stay in the Top 50 this year!" she said. "But it's really amazing. 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 was the last Japanese to win one, at Seoul in 2009, and she also has the most with eight.

The doubles final was played Saturday and saw Irina-Camelia Begu and María Irigoyen beat Johanna Larsson and Chanelle Scheepers, 62 60. It was the Romanian-Argentine duo's first WTA doubles title together - Begu now has three WTA doubles titles, while Irigoyen won her first WTA title of any kind.

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