Naomi Osaka confirmed her status as one of the rising stars of women's tennis by beating Daria Kasatkina in the final of Indian Wells. With this historic victory, Osaka became the first person from her country to triumph in Indian Wells and her reward is a new career-high ranking of 22.
Osaka needed just 70 minutes to dispatch No. 19 Kasatkina, who had an equally impressive showing in the desert.
The rising star from Japan won nine of her last 11 games against a fellow 20-year-old in Kasatkina, overpowering her in the return game and holding a 5-2 edge in aces to win in almost 71 minutes.
Osaka, whose path to the final included an opening-round win over former No. 1 Maria Sharapova, said the victory over Halep, her fourth top-10 victim, showed she was on the right path with her preparation.
"I think we were both nervous at the beginning, because the biggest finals so far, " Kasatkina said.
"I can not believe I won this tournament, beating Roger in a great final and level of tennis", Del Potro said.
She has plenty of years ahead of her to improve her delivery as much as she already has improved her game.
"Hi, I'm Naomi, " she began, trying out her wry sense of humor on the crowd.
As well as Osaka has been playing, Kasatkina should have just enough to come through this and lift her first Premier Mandatory title.
"I was just trying to play consistent this whole tournament and to beat someone like her with the score line like this, I think I've sort of done what I've meant to do, so I'm really happy about that", Osaka said. During the match, she was able to manage her nerves and stuff, and I was still a little bit tight.
A cleverly-angled crosscourt forehand from Osaka saw her gain two break points in the next game and the Japanese broke on her second opportunity to draw level.
The 26-year-old Halep improved to 18-1 on the season and is looking to win her second WTA Tour title of 2018.
But she will need to practice on her acceptance speeches.
"Um, hello ... I'm Naom ... oh never mind".
Afterward, she admitted, "That was pretty embarrassing".
"I don't think so", she said with a grin. Federer's 17-match winning streak - the best start of his career - ended.
Osaka thanked her Haiti-born father and Japan-born mother, who weren't on hand, as well as the "super awesome" ball kids. She owns wins over all four current Grand Slam titleholders in the a year ago.
Juan Martin del Potro keeps surprising himself.