While attention was on the Wimbledon finals, two European clay-court tournaments were completed with championship wins for Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse in Hamburg and Spain’s Nuria Párrizas Díaz in Båstad.
I'm feeling good all the week. Today is more special because it's the final, and I'm so happy for this. It's the first time I played and won [at WTA 125 level], so it's important for me. Nuria Párrizas Díaz
Ruse came through qualifying to claim her first WTA title at the Hamburg European Open over local favourite Andrea Petkovic in straight sets; while Párrizas Díaz captured her biggest title to date at the WTA 125 Nordea Open, defeating Olga Govortsova, also in straight sets in the final.
Belying her inexperience at WTA 250 level, Ruse delivered a superb performance to defeat former World No 9 Andrea Petkovic 7-6(6) 6-4 to lift her maiden WTA trophy.
The World No 198 saved 2 set points in the opener and overturned a 0-3 double-break deficit in the second to become the lowest-ranked WTA title winner since World No 299 Margarita Gasparyan won Tashkent 2018.
The Romanian is the third qualifier to win a WTA tournament this season, following Clara Tauson in Lyon and Liudmila Samsonova in Berlin, and the 11th first-time champion.
“I’m so emotional right now,” said Ruse afterwards. “I felt really good today on the court.
“I would like to thank my coach very much – I’m such a crazy player, it’s not easy to work with me. It was a pleasure to play [Andrea] in the final. Especially because I saw so many matches of her on TV when I was little.”
Ruse, 23, accomplished her title run this week despite having only once progressed to the quarter-finals of a WTA tournament, at Nottingham 2019.
She came into the week having not contested a WTA main draw since Prague last year, and with an 11-9 win-loss record in 2021.
Her biggest previous title was the 2017 Bad Saulgau ITF W25, and her career-high ranking was World No 159, set last December.
Ruse is now guaranteed to hit a new peak, and break the Top 150 for the first time.
She had a big-stage moment on her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon 2018, when she held 6 match points over Agnieszka Radwanska on No 1 Court.
The ball-striking talent that she demonstrated in that match came to fruition in Hamburg, where Ruse also upset No 6 seed Jil Teichmann, No 4 seed Danielle Collins and No 1 seed Dayana Yastremska.
After an early exchange of breaks, a tightly contested first set was decided by the narrowest of margins, with Ruse scoring 34 winners to Petkovic’s 13 overall, but the German repeatedly came up with big first serves to keep her side of the scoreboard ticking along.
The World No 130 was in her first WTA final since winning Antwerp 2015 and seeking her 7th career title, and first on home soi,l having previously lost the 2013 Nurnberg final to Simona Halep.
She held 2 set points, at 6-5, and then again in the tiebreak, but her forehand faltered on both occasions.
Ruse ultimately sealed the set in controversial fashion. Up set point, she sent a forehand fizzing down the line, which was initially called out.
Petkovic had barely managed to lay a racket on it, and umpire Thomas Sweeney overruled the call and awarded the point and first set to Ruse – much to the home player’s displeasure.
The German rebounded, coming up with some of her best returns of the day to move up a 3-0 double break in the second, but Ruse boldness under pressure took her to the title down the home stretch, with two breathtaking crosscourt forehands gaining her the first break back as she reeled off 4 games in a row, and 6 of the last 7.
Meanwhile, in Sweden, Nuria Párrizas Díaz claimed the biggest title of her career on Saturday, as the unseeded Spaniard charged past No 7 seed Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 6-2 6-2 to claim the Nordea Open.
The 29-year-old was a frequent winner at ITF Challenger-level throughout her career, and had already picked up four $25,000 titles this season, but victory in her first WTA 125 final is by far the grandest trophy she has picked up in her professional career.
She needed just an hour and 11 minutes to storm past Govortsova, a former Top 40 player.
“I’m feeling good all the week,” Párrizas Díaz said, following her breakthrough victory. “Today is more special because it’s the final, and I’m so happy for this.
“It’s the first time I played and won [at WTA 125 level], so it’s important for me.”
Párrizas Díaz got over three-quarters of her first serves into play and won 80 percent of the points when she did, an impeccable combination which led to her never facing a break point all day.
The title continues a season of improvement for the Spaniard, who made her WTA main-draw debut earlier this year as a qualifier in Bogota, and progressed all the way to the quarter-finals.
Párrizas Díaz came close to making her Grand Slam main-draw debut this season as well, falling in the final round of qualifying at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon.
After being edged out by No 1 seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano in Wimbledon qualifying, Párrizas Díaz brought that rapidly rising form into the Nordea Open, where she dropped only one set, to Maddison Inglis in the second round.
Against Govortsova, Párrizas Díaz converted 4 of her 5 break points to dominate proceedings and although needed 4 match points to close out the final game of the championship match, she prevailed at last to pick up the trophy.
It was also a sterling week for Govortsova, who reached her biggest singles final since she made the fourth of her four WTA singles finals at Tashkent in 2013.
32-year-old Govortsova is one of the growing number of returning mothers on tour, having given birth to son Dominic in 2018.