No place like home: Sevastova rallies to win Baltic Open

Photo : www.wtatennis.com
www.wtatennis.com|29-Jul-2019 14:34

Top seed Anastasija Sevastova rallied from a set and a break down to beat Polish qualifier Katarzyna Kawa on home soil in the final of the Baltic Open.

JURMALA, Latvia - Three points away from defeat, Anastasija Sevastova rallied to claim the title on home soil at the first-ever edition at the Baltic Open.

The Latvian No.1 and top seed trailed qualifier Katarzyna Kawa by a set and a break, and served to stay in the match in the second set, before ralling to win her fourth WTA title, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in Jurmala.

"Every match I had a responsibility. Every match here was like a final," Sevastova said. "I already knew how it would be. It was hard to play, of course.

"She played well, so it was two times harder, and not because of the fact that the stands wanted something from me. Everyone always wanted something from me. Therefore, it was not necessary to prove something to someone, only to myself.

"Before the finals I didn’t know how she plays, her shots, serve and how she moves. All my matches she could find on YouTube. I knew she will start well and will fight tough at the first set but she did the same in the third one as well. 

"I showed character at this tournament, it was difficult, so it was two times more pleasant to win."

The 26-year-old from Poland, playing in her first WTA main draw, looked for all the world as though she was going to pull off a seventh straight victory this week on the Latvian coast, playing pitch perfect tennis to build a 6-3, 2-0 lead in the biggest match of her career to date.

Sevastova looked primed for a comeback from there, as she won three straight games to lead by a second-set break, but the World No.194 never looked overwhelmed despite sitting over 180 places beneath Sevatova in the WTA rankings.

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Kawa broke straight back, and held her serve for nearly the duration of the second set as she kept pace with the World No.11, as she held a break point in the eighth game to serve for the match, and won the first point of the 10th game as Sevastova served trailing, 6-3, 5-4.

"I think it was a pretty close match and anyone could win it. Anastasija won today, but I hope I will get better and better from such matches and will experience them again soon," Kawa said.

"I had a 5-4 lead in the second set, which was a kind of chance for me, but in this game she played really great shots and I didn’t have any chances actually. Everything was super close – it was a little bit of luck and a few lines that decided who was winning.

"I was kind of forced to play lots of drop shots and touch. It’s not my game, but I know that I can use it whenever it’s needed. It became a really nice match because of that and I’m happy I could be part of that.

"I started with a win, 7-6 in the final set tiebreak. To come from there all the way to the final feels kind of incredible. It feels like a different tournament but it’s still the same one. To get to the final is a great lesson for me – it’s a great week for me."

Nonetheless, the Latvian No.1 found her best tennis in the crucial moments, and buoyed by the support of the home crowd, won five straight games to turn the match on its head from there. 

The Pole authored some late resistance, as she got the final set back on serve at 2-2, but dropped serve once more in a crucial fifth game that proved to be the difference.

Sevastova authored two love holds from then on, but came from 15-30 down in the match's final game to ultimately seal her fourth WTA title in two hours and nine minutes.

"It was a really great week. I know it because I sent 10 days here, starting from Friday of qualifiying so I saw it all," Kawa said on-court after the match. "It's never easy to lose a match but I'm leaving Jurmala with great memories."

There was no Latvian sweep, however, as Canada's Sharon Fichman and Serbia's Nina Stojanovic rallied from a set down against top seeds Jelena Ostapenko and Galina Voskoboeva in the doubles final, 2-6, 7-6(1), 10-6.

"They are both very good players. Jelena [Ostapenko] ranked 30 in the doubles. She won French Open in singles not so long ago. Galina [Voskoboeva] again is Top 50 and she is the experienced player," said Fichman.

"It was a tough match and you know, we had to do our best and fight for every point, no matter how we felt and work together. We did that. I am very happy. It was very difficult match, very difficult day and we figured out how to win."

Fichman, who took a nearly two-year break from tennis from 2016 through last April, won her first WTA title in five years, while Stojanovic claimed her first of any kind.

"For me the most important thing when I play with my partner is to be positive, and I don't remember when was the last time when I felt so supportive, a lot of energy during the whole match," the Serbian said.

"The match can go with ups and downs and your emotions go up and down, and it's normal. With Sharon, she just made me positive the whole match. We feel each other. 

"Last two matches, we played tiebreaks. In the tiebreaks I think we play our best game, because we were there all the time. We were focused and going for it. I'm really proud."