American teenager Ashlyn Krueger capped off a breakthrough week at the Kinoshita Group Japan Open Tennis Championship by defeating No.1 seed Zhu Lin 6-3, 7-6(6) to win her first Hologic WTA Tour title.
Before her week in Osaka, Krueger's best WTA result came this summer when she made the quarterfinals on the grass of 's-Hertogenbosch. She came into the week without a main draw win on hard court this year.
In Osaka, the 19-year-old Texan did not lose a set, tallying wins over No.8 seed Kateryna Baindl, Jessika Ponchet, Anna Kalinskaya, and Mai Hontama before thwarting No.35 Zhu in the final. The win over Zhu is just the second Top 50 win of her career.
Playing in her first tour-level final, Krueger overpowered Zhu from the baseline and never let the Chinese No.1 into her service games. Krueger fires 28 winners to Zhu's 13. The match saw just one break of serve, with Krueger breaking Zhu in her first service game of the match. After consolidating the break for a 3-0 lead, Krueger eased through her service games to pocket the first set.
"I think I was very aggressive today, playing a lot of really aggressive tennis and using my serve," Krueger said. "I think I just stayed mentally tough the whole time. Lots of aggressive shots and trusting in myself."
The second set rolled with the server, with neither player generating a break point. As Zhu acclimated to Krueger's game, the top seed went into the tiebreak optimistic of her chances to take the match to a third set. Zhu earned a set point at 6-5 but lost the baseline forehand exchange.
Krueger stepped in to whip a return winner at 6-6 to earn her first match point and closed out the 96-minute win on Zhu's 16th unforced error of the day.
In doubles, Anna-Lena Friedsam and Nadiia Kichenok defeated Anna Kalinskaya and Yulia Putintseva 7-6(3), 6-3 to take the title. The title is Friedsam's fourth WTA doubles title and Kichenok's ninth.