Sara Sorribes Tormo became the 6th lucky loser to win a singles title in WTA history on Saturday in Cleveland, when she battled past Ekaterina Alexandrova, the 4th-seeded from Russia, in the final at the Tennis in the Land WTA 250 hard court tournament to lift the trophy.
I think I played every match better and better, so it was a very positive week for me, and I’m very happy. I was trying to find the solutions, because [Alexandrova] was hitting the ball so strong. Sara Sorribes Tormo
Sorribes Tormo, ranked No 95, upset the World No 22, 3-6 6-4 6-4, after 2 hours and 27 minutes, the longest match of the tournament, overcoming a 2-4 deficit in the second set, and trailing 3-4 in the third before storming back.
She broke Alexandrova twice to close out each set, converting 6 of her 10 break points, and finished off the championships on her 4th match point.
“I knew I was close to losing the match, so I was thinking that I have to find the solution,” she said afterwards. “My family always tells me to fight, and always stay in the match, and that’s what I tried to do. I know I can run and I used that to my advantage.
“So, yeah, it’s something incredible. I’m very happy.”
Amazingly, 3 of those 6 lucky loser wins have come this summer, as the Spaniard joins Maria Timofeeva, who won Budapest, and Nao Hibino, the winner in Prague.
Here in Cleveland, Sorribes Tormo lost to Clara Burel in the final round of qualifying, but she was nearly faultless once she secured her lucky loser spot, dropping just one set in the main draw, which was the first set of Saturday’s final.
This week was an emotional roller coaster for Sorribes Tormo, who was ‘almost crying in the players’ lounge’ at the Nautica Entertainment Complex after she was eliminated in the qualifying round, but, when Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania became the 6th player to withdraw from the 32-woman main draw, the 26-year-old Spaniard pulled her own name out of the hat to replace her.
“One week ago, I was out of the tournament, and today I am here,” she said, smiling. “Someone told me they call this Believeland. It must be true.”
Trailing in the second set, Sorribes Tormo said she changed her tactics.
“At the beginning I was playing a bit more short so she could find more easy shots,” she explained. “I started playing more longer, deeper balls, and I think that made the difference, because I know I can run.
“Maybe that’s why she was taking more risks, and maybe that’s why the match turned my way.”
Sorribes Tormo started lofting more high shots to the baseline, baiting Alexandrova into making more and more unforced errors.
“I had to find the solution,” Sorribes Tormo continued. “When you are down 4-2, you’re close to losing, so I was trying to do what I need to change the score.”
Alexandrova was seeking her 5th career WTA singles title and second this year, and deep, powerful hitting gave the Russian a break for 6-4, 3-2 and a commanding advantage in the final, but Sorribes Tormo broke back to love shortly thereafter, levelling the second set at 4-4.
The Spaniard saved a break point to hold for 5-4, and then took advantage of Alexandrova’s lack of first serves to win her 4th straight game and steal the second set.
In the third, Alexandrova cracked more powerful groundstrokes to go up a break at both 2-1 and 4-3, but again Sorribes Tormo eventually pulled back on serve each time, saving a break point with a rally overhead en route to a hold for 5-4.
Big serves helped Alexandrova see off 3 championship points, but, on the 4th, she sent a down-the-line backhand wide, and Sorribes Tormo sealed the title.
The Russian, who was the lone seed to advance past the quarter-finals, fired all 4 aces in the match, but she was broken in her last 3 service games, failing to score a point in one of them and coughing up 2 of her 14 double-faults in the final.
“Sara had an amazing week and played an amazing match today,” Alexandrova said. “It was quite an enjoyable week for everyone.”
Sorribes Tormo, who has been ranked as high as No 32 in her career, was appearing in her second WTA final, having won her first WTA 250 title in Guadalajara in 2021.
The Spaniard went on a hot streak, ousting Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, American Sloane Stephens, and Germany’s Tatjana Maria before upsetting Alexandrova to win her second WTA career title.
“I think I played every match better and better, so it was a very positive week for me, and I’m very happy,” Sorribes Tormo said afterwards. “I was trying to find the solutions, because [Alexandrova] was hitting the ball so strong.”
Saturday’s doubles final was won by the unseeded pair of Miyu Kato & Aldila Sutjiadi, who squeaked past American Nicole Melichar-Martinez & Ellen Perez from Australia, the No 2 seeds, 6-4 6-7(4) [10-8].
Japan’s Kato & Sutjiadi from Indonesia were down 7-4 in the match-tiebreak, but they won 6 of the next 7 points to prevail after an hour and 47 minutes of play.
Kato & Sutjiadi connected on 65.8% of first service points won, and saved 11 of 14 break points on their way to the title.
It is the second team title for Kato & Sutjiadi, who also won in Auckland in the first week of this season, while, overall, Kato and Sutjiadi have each won 4 WTA doubles titles in their respective careers.