Mihaela Buzarnescu picked a perfect way to break into the top 20 in the world rankings — with her first career WTA championship.
Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 6, 2018 Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu in action during the third round match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova REUTERS/Tony O’Brien
The fifth-seeded Romanian steamrolled first-time finalist Maria Sakkari of Greece, winning 6-1, 6-0 on Sunday to win the inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., and become the sixth first-time winner on the Tour this year.
It was Buzarnescu’s third final of the season.
“I never thought I would play again and reach this level,” Buzarnescu told an on-court reporter after the match, per the WTA website. “It’s been really amazing … and I’m really happy to be on the poster next year!”
Buzarnescu, 30, will be No. 20 when the updated rankings are released Monday. One year ago, she was No. 142 in the world.
On Sunday, she blitzed the 23-year-old Sakkari, winning the first five games of the match in less than 20 minutes. Sakkari won the sixth game to slow down the freight train, but that would be the only game she would win. Buzarnescu lost only 19 points on serve in a match that lasted only 73 minutes.
Svetlana Kuznetsova fended off four match points before winning the second set in a tiebreaker, then rolled in the third set to top Donna Vekic of Croatia to win 4-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2 and take the championship in Washington.
The unseeded Russian trailed the seventh-seeded Vekic 4-5 in the second set and was down 15-40. However, Kuznetsova won consecutive points to force deuce before winning on her second advantage. The two would then hold serve to force the tiebreaker.
Vekic again held match point, at 6-5 and 7-6, but Kuznetsova won on both times, ultimately taking the final three points of the tiebreaker to win it 9-7.
It was all Kuznetsova in the third set. She broke Vekic twice en route to a 5-0 lead in the set, then after losing serve, broke Vekic one more time to win 6-2.
It was the 33-year-old Kuznetsova’s first title of the season, her first title since 2016 and the 18th championship of her career. Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion and 2009 French Open champion, also won the Citi Open in 2014.
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