WTA Hiroshima: Nao Hibino completes perfect weekend with two titles


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WTA Hiroshima: Nao Hibino completes perfect weekend with two titles

World no. 146 Nao Hibino had a perfect week at home in Hiroshima, claiming both the singles and doubles crowns at the same event for the first time in a career. In the singles final, Hibino took down the fellow Japanese Misaki Doi (the first all-Japanese WTA final since Jakarta 1997) 6-3, 6-2 in 68 minutes, joining forces with Doi to claim the doubles crown as well after a 3-6, 6-4, 10-4 triumph over Christina McHale and Valeria Savinykh.

The 24-year-old Hibino was ranked 56th at the beginning of 2016 and her results were not that good in the last four seasons, losing three WTA finals and failing to make an impression and deliver consistent and balanced results.

That all changed in Hiroshima where she played on a high level from start to finish for the second WTA title (Tashkent 2015), controlling the pace with a rock-solid display on the return to lifting the trophy. Doi did earn three breaks but needed much more than that to stay competitive, dropping more than 60% of the points in her games and suffering seven breaks from nine chances offered to Hibino who grabbed 11 of the last 13 games to seal the deal in style and start a title celebration.

Doi broke at 15 in the second game with a deep return, getting broken at love in game three before earning another break with a strong forehand that pushed her 3-1 up. Hibino took charge after that, pulling the break back in game five when Misaki sent a backhand long, delivering another one at 3-3 with a forced error and closing the opener with the fourth straight break at 5-3 after a forehand mistake from Doi.

Nothing could have stopped Misaki's downfall, spraying another forehand error to find herself 2-0 down in the second set and sending Hibino 4-0 up following more mistakes from the forehand wing in game four. Nao won nine straight games at that moment and the title was firmly within her reach, sealing the deal with a break at 5-2 for the most significant success on the Tour since Tashkent 2015.