HIROSHIMA, Japan - In the first all-Japanese WTA final in 22 years, Nao Hibino downed Misaki Doi to win the Hana-cupid Japan Women's Open, 6-3, 6-2.
After each Japanese woman had upset two seeded players en route to Sunday's championship, both unseeded compatriots, currently ranked outside the Top 100 but with career-best rankings in the Top 60, were looking to win their first WTA title in four years.
It was the left-handed Doi who made the brighter start of the two early on, as she went up a break twice in the first set but ultimately could not maintain her early form.
"I was so nervous today, so much more than the semifinals," Hibino said. "But because I experienced being nervous in the semifinals, I knew what to expect. I was able to stay positive during the match today."
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From 3-1 down in the first set, Hibino ran off nine straight games to take command of the championship, as Doi grew more erratic off the ground.
"The start of the match was good - I broke her service game, was broken and broke back. She was patient and ran around a lot and I couldn't hold my serves - as a result, I was unable to get the rhythm," Doi said.
"She was playing well. Today, she was persistent. She has strong backhand but she was also using her forehand to structure points well giving me very little chance to play my game."
The left-hander racked up 14 unforced errors in the first set, to just eight winners, and was broken in six consecutive service games to fall behind 6-3, 4-0.
"I would be happier had I won, but I was able to play in the final having persevered in a difficult first round match and the heat all week," Doi continued.
"I learned to believe in my own game and never give up this week, so what I learned will be useful as I head to Osaka."
Though Doi recaptured some momentum, winning consecutive games and breaking serve for a third time in the match, Hibino would not be denied a straight sets victory to double her career haul of WTA titles, joining her victory at the Tashkent Open from 2015.
With their runs on home soil, both players are set to return to the Top 100 in the rankings on Monday.
"I already know what I am going to do [with the winnings]," the champion said. "I spoke to my mother about getting a dog if I make the Top 100, so we are buying a dog. My sister already has a name picked out: 'Terrine.'"
The two compatriots later partnered to win the doubles title, as they rallied from a set down to beat Christina McHale and Valeria Savinykh, 3-6, 6-4, 10-4.
"I've watched Misaki struggle with a drop in her ranking and have been happy to watch her get her ranking up," Hibino continued. "I think hard work has paid off for both of us - because we are both in the finals of this tournament in Japan.
"Going into the Toray Pan Pacific Open, I am happy that I had a good week and that I have learned how to be mentally strong."