Qualifier Potapova races past Kudermetova to maiden title in Istanbul

Qualifier Potapova races past Kudermetova to maiden title in Istanbul

Qualifier Anastasia Potapova claimed her first Hologic WTA Tour title in her third final, storming past No.3 seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 6-1 in 1 hour and 23 minutes to win the TEB BNP Paribas Tennis Championship Istanbul. From 3-1 down in the first set, Potapova won eight straight games, and 11 of the last 12.

Potapova, a former junior No.1 and the 2016 Wimbledon girls’ champion, reached her first two finals in her third and fourth WTA main draws respectively. As a 17-year-old, she was runner-up to Olga Danilovic at the 2018 Moscow River Cup and to Margarita Gasparyan at Tashkent 2018. She reached a career-high of No.64 in 2019, but inconsistency and then ankle surgery in 2020 slowed her progress.

Coming into Istanbul, Potapova’s ranking had fallen to No.122 – which means that she has reached all three of her finals to date while outside the Top 100. Her title run will lift the 21-year-old back inside that echelon. Potapova’s victory over Kudermetova was her first win over a Top 30 player since Dubai 2021, where she defeated Madison Keys and Belinda Bencic, and improves her 2022 win-loss record to 13-8 (8-7 in WTA main draws).

Match management: In Potapova’s first three matches this week, she impressed with her ability to pair her aggressive strokes with consistency, maintaining a control over her game from first to last point that has not always been apparent in the past. Against Yulia Putintseva in the semifinals, though, she needed to overcome a hit-or-miss first set before finding that groove.

In the final, Potapova repeated that semifinal dynamic on a smaller scale. Going for riskier shots earlier in rallies than Kudermetova, she dropped serve first and fell behind 3-1.

But Potapova’s strategy paid off as she rapidly found her range. Kudermetova coughed up an error-strewn game of her own to lose her break lead, and from there Potapova motored. Her backhand down the line was scintillating throughout the match, and some remarkable scrambling stole a number of key points from Kudermetova.

Potapova ultimately tallied 15 winners to Kudermetova’s 12, and kept her unforced error count down to an impressive 10 compared to her opponent’s 23.

Having dominated the last five games of the first set, Potapova kept hold of her momentum after coming through seven total deuces to break and hold at the start of the second set. The only remaining blip was a lapse on serve at 3-0 – but she quickly regained the double break, and accelerated to the finishing line.

Kudermetova, who was playing her third final of 2022 and fifth overall, was bidding for a second title following Charleston 2021. But on her 25th birthday, the World No.29 was undone by a 58% first serve percentage compared to Potapova’s stellar 73% .

Potapova becomes the second qualifier to win a WTA title in 2022 following Tatjana Maria’s triumph in Bogota two weeks ago.

Bouzkova, Sorribes Tormo claim double title

No.3 seeds Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo defeated the unseeded Natela Dzalamidze and Kamilla Rakhimova 6-3, 6-4 to become the double champions. The Czech-Spanish duo did not drop a set all week.

It was a third WTA doubles title for both Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo, but their first together. Previously, Bouzkova had won Birmingham and Prague last year alongside Lucie Hradecka, while Sorribes Tormo had triumphed at Monterrey 2018 with Naomi Broady and Rabat 2019 with María José Martínez Sánchez.

Dzalamidze and Rakhimova were contesting their third final as a team, having previously been the 2021 Palermo runners-up and 2021 Linz champions.

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