Kiki Bertens staged a strong comeback to win her eighth career WTA title with victory over Donna Vekic in the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy.
The second seed trailed Vekic by 5-2 and a double break in the opener but rallied to take the set on a tie-break and ultimately go on to seal a 7-6(2) 6-4 win.
It was an impressive response from Bertens against a player who had shown few signs of nerves in what was the first major final of her career.
The 22-year-old Vekic dominated the opening exchanges but Bertens banked on her experience to steer the set into a tiebreak, which she dominated to take the initiative.
— WTA (@WTA) February 3, 2019
Bertens moved closer to the title as she established a double break lead of her own in the second set, only for Vekic to claim one of the breaks back and keep the match alive.
But world No.8 Bertens responded by breaking again, the Dutch star subsequently going on to serve out for the title on her fourth match point.
“My coach Raemon Sluiter told me I was playing the right way, and just needed to keep going for my shots, which I did!” said Bertens, who now has an impressive 8-2 record in WTA finals.
“It was an amazing final to play. I will be back next year.”
Vekic was magnanimous in defeat and admitted in a courtside interview: “Congrats to Kiki and your team. You were too good for me today. I’m really looking forward to playing doubles with you in Indian Wells.
“Sorry, (coach) Torben (Beltz) we are going to have to wait a little bit longer for that first title but at least the finals are getting bigger.”
15 July 2019
Novak Djokovic is keenly aware of the significance of his fifth-set performance against Ro... More
29 April 2016
Victory was never out of the question when Bernard Tomic faced 17-time Grand Slam champion... More
9 January 2018
As the first Grand Slam of the season fast approaches, top-10 players are leading the char... More