Without a doubt, 2018 is the breakthrough year for Naomi Osaka. Having never broken into the top-30 before the commencement of the new year, the Japanese starlet found herself claiming the first titles of any kind in her career — and they just happen to be one of the biggest titles in the sport. Victorious at both the BNP Paribas Open and the US Open, Osaka finds herself ranked fourth, the highest any Japanese woman had reached since Kimiko Date.
As a result, Osaka has qualified for her maiden WTA Finals held in Singapore and will be looking to overpower all her other counterparts to lift the title on her maiden appearance. She has a high chance of finishing the year in the top-five of the rankings, and a good run in Singapore will definitely help.
Terrific season for Osaka
Osaka reached the fourth round at the Australian Open — the first time she had managed to break into the second week of a Major tournament. A stunning run to the Indian Wells title saw her defeating five-time Major champion Maria Sharapova in the opening round, before going on to shock Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep to reach the final. There, she battled past fellow youngster Daria Kasatkina in straight sets. That was the first title of her entire career, even including ITF and Junior tournaments.
Her next semifinal appearance came in Nottingham, and although she experienced a mini-slump after her Indian Wells triumph, Osaka stunningly surged towards her first Grand Slam final, ousting fellow hard-hitters Aryna Sabalenka and home favourite Madison Keys in the process. In a controversy-filled final, Osaka played some scintillating tennis, stunning idol Serena Williams in straight sets for the biggest title of her career, and sealing her top-10 debut and biggest paycheck ever.
Continuing her good run of form, she stormed into the final in front of her home crowd at the Toray Pan Pacific Open with the loss of just a mere 15 games. Although she ultimately fell short to Karolina Pliskova, she managed to storm to the semifinals in Beijing for the China Open, being defeated by Anastasija Sevastova there.
Happy to make her debut in Singapore
Technically, this will be Osaka’s second appearance in Singapore. Back in 2015, the WTA Finals also included an event for the Rising Stars to battle it out, and the Japanese youngster was voted to compete in the tournament. She saved match points and produced an incredible comeback to stun Caroline Garcia in the final, despite being ranked 202nd then.
“Qualifying for the WTA Finals is a huge accomplishment,” said Osaka. “Winning the WTA Rising Stars Invitational in 2015 helped give me the confidence to play on the big stages so I am excited to go back to Singapore and compete with the top players of the season.” Returning to Singapore this year, Osaka will look to build on her experience and defeat her fellow top players in the majestic Singapore Indoor Stadium.