Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four championship points to defeat Donna Vekic on Sunday in the final of Washington DC’s Citi Open.
The epic followed Alex Zverev’s 6-2 6-4 dismissal of Australian teenager Alex De Minaur in the men’s final, a victory that saw the top seed and world No.3 retain his title from 12 months earlier.
Zverev’s 74-minute triumph contrasted sharply with Kuznetsova’s two-and-a-half hour escape act, during which she saved four match points in the second set – two in the 10th game, two in the tiebreak – before going on to win 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2.
Stages an incredible comeback, saving four championship points en route to a 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2 win! pic.twitter.com/itGp3F6dXA
— WTA (@WTA) August 5, 2018
It was Kuznetsova’s second title run in the US capital after winning in 2014 and marks her first WTA trophy since the Kremlin Cup in 2016.
She is projected to return to world No.88 after struggling in her comeback from wrist surgery in last 2017, which sidelined her for four months.
During the trophy presentation, Kuznetsova offered words of comfort and encouragement for Vekic, a frequent practice partner who became emotional when giving her runner-up speech.
“It’s been very rough times for me,” added Kuznetsova, who was 4-10 this season before winning five straight matches in DC.
“It’s hard because this sport is a little bit different and it’s very psychological – when you lose everybody goes ‘you look very bad’ and when you win everybody writes you very much up. Very important to stay calm – doesn’t matter if you win or lose.
“But I also love this sport and I enjoy it really much. So I appreciate this sport for giving me everything I have in my life.”
Currently ranked 128th, Kuznetsova missed the cut-off for direct entry into the US Open, meaning she faces a stint in the qualifying rounds unless she is awarded a wildcard.
Zverev, meanwhile, took his Washington DC winning streak to 10 matches, dropping just one set en route to his third ATP title of the year.
The world No.3 from Germany put on a serving masterclass against De Minaur, winning 90 per cent of his first-serve points and not facing a break point for the entire match.
Zverev surged to a 4-0 lead in the opening set to set the tone, and despite the second set being tighter the No.1 seed was always in control.
“It feels great. It shows mental strength as well, and shows a little bit of maturity,” Zverev said. “I had a great tournament. I played a lot of great players. Losing only one set, it was a fantastic week for me.”
De Minaur, who stretched Zverev to five sets in their only previous meeting in Davis Cup in February, was appearing in his second ATP final of the year, yet first at 500-level.
“You really deserved it,” De Minaur said to Zverev during the trophy presentation. “Played too good today.”
Responded Zverev: “I’m sure these kind of trophies will be in your hands very soon.”
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