Eastbourne | Wozniacki counterpunches her way to title
Caroline Wozniacki gave herself the perfect confidence-booster ahead of Wimbledon with a hard fought 7-5 7-6(5) victory over Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka to take her second WTA Eastbourne title and the 29th of her career.
The 27-year-old top seed benefited from her greater experience as her 20-year-old opponent made her debut in a final at a Premier level event.
It feels good, it's been a good week, I played some good tennis. I'm happy to be here and to have won the last match as well. I have been playing well for a while now, so I don't know. It just went well this week and I'm going to take it and not overthink things. Caroline Wozniacki
Sabalenka’s scintillating power against Wozniacki’s forceful counter-punching, was the main feature of the Nature Valley International title match with the Belarussian showing that she had the credentials to become a star in her own right. She showed great patience, variety and soft touches at the net and held a break against the world No.2 in both sets, forcing Wozniacki to save set points in the first.
The unseeded Sabalenka’s consolation will be to rise to 32 in the rankings — having been 135 this time last year — and beating three seeded players on the way to the final.
Wozniacki, the 2009 champion, was delighted to have finally won the title again having just failed at the last hurdle last year.
“This means a lot, I forgot how heavy (the trophy) it is!” said Wozniacki. “It is great I can still play at this level almost 10 years later.
“I have played well here, in the years in between, I have played a lot of semi-finals and the final and it just feels like I have played well every time I have come here.
“It feels good, it’s been a good week, I played some good tennis. I’m happy to be here and to have won the last match as well.
“I have been playing well for a while now, so I don’t know. It just went well this week and I’m going to take it and not overthink things.”
And now she is looking positively at Wimbledon where she hasn’t progressed past the fourth round. “Wimbledon is such a special tournament and I love grass. To be playing well going into Wimbledon is great.”
Sabalenka was not downhearted and her performances certainly gained her plenty of admirers.
“I will remember that this is my first premier level WTA final and the 17 sets from this week,” she said laughing.
“She (Wozniacki) is a great player. You have to be focussed on every point, she puts the balls in the right place.
“I have to think about good matches before the final,” said Sabalenka. “It’s always tough to lose when you have some chance to, like set points or you lead in the tiebreak 5-2 and then you totally lose your game.
“But she’s a great player. Of course, she’s the second (in the world). It’s good experience for me, and I hope next time, if I will have any chance like today, I’m going to keep it.”