No.30 Liudmila Samsonova captured her fourth career title at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, defeating No.36 Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 7-5 in Sunday's final.
The victory is Samsonova's 18th in her last 19 matches. The 23-year-old has now won three tournaments over that span, having picked up back-to-back titles in Washington D.C. and Cleveland in August. She will rise to a new career-high ranking just outside the Top 20 on Monday.
Samsonova maintained her undefeated record in Hologic WTA Tour finals with another masterful serving performance. Going into Sunday, Samsonova led the tour in service game win percentage, posting an 81.5% hold rate this season. With wins over Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Zhang Shuai, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Wang Xinyu and Zheng, Samsonova lost serve just six times in Tokyo.
How the match was won: Clinical offense was the story of the opening set, as both players managed their service games to trade 10 consecutive holds to open the match. Serving at deuce at 5-5, Zheng struck her first double-fault of the match to give Samsonova her first break point opportunity. Samsonova coolly converted with two line-skipping forehands and served out the set after 57 minutes.
Samsonova finished the first set with 14 winners to nine unforced errors, while Zheng hit 11 winners to 10 unforced errors.
After breaking Zheng for a second time to lead 3-2 in the second set, Samsonova played her first tight game of the match to give Zheng an opportunity to break back. Zheng finally broke through the Samsonova serve for the first time to get back on serve at 3-3.
But in a redux of the first set, Samsonova capitalized in the 5-5 game to break Zheng and closed out the win with a service hold at love.
Tokyo has a new champion 🏆@LiudaSamsonova takes the #TorayPPO title without dropping a set all week! pic.twitter.com/dssGivsvBf— wta (@WTA) September 25, 2022
"It was a really tough match because huge congrats to Qinwen and her team because she's playing amazing. Seriously, congrats guys. It was a nervous match today. We were fighting every point. It was tough."
Zheng out-aced Samsonova nine to four, but Samsonova held the edge from the baseline. Samsonova held Zheng to just 8 winners from the baseline. She finished with 21 winners to 27 unforced errors, while Zheng hit 17 total winners - aces included - to 28 unforced errors.
Stat of the day: Samsonova is now 18-1 in her last 19 matches, with 16 of those 18 wins coming in straight sets. Two of her titles this season have been won without dropping a set, first in Cleveland and now Tokyo.
Zheng continues her climb: Despite the loss, Zheng enjoyed a standout week in Tokyo, where she became the first Chinese teenager to ever reach a WTA singles final. Her win over top seed Paula Badosa in the second round was her first completed Top 10 win. Following Coco Gauff's run to the French Open final, Zheng became the second teenager to make a WTA 500-level or higher final this season.
On Monday, she will become the first Chinese teenager to crack the Top 30.
Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos win second team title
No.2 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos defeated No.4 seeds Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez 6-4, 6-4 to win the doubles title. Dabrowski and Olmos did not lose a set en route to their second title of the season. In addtion to defeating the No.4 seeds in the final, the Canadian-Mexican duo also beat No.3 seeds Desiree Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs in the semifinals.
Title town: Tokyo 🏆🏆— wta (@WTA) September 25, 2022
No.2 seeds @GabyDabrowski & @guguolmos pick up their second trophy of the year with victory at the #TorayPPO! pic.twitter.com/3hVko4FEmq
Dabrowski and Olmos broke once in each set to maintain control and faced down three break points to go unbroken in the match. The pressure points consistently went the way of the champions, as Dabrowski and Olmos went 4 for 4 on deciding points.
The Tokyo title extended Dabrowski's win streak to eight matches after the Canadian teamed with Luisa Stefani to win Chennai last week.