Strasbourg | WTA 250 Internationaux de Strasbourg – Former World No 3 Elina Svitolina bagged her first WTA title since becoming a mother in October, when the Ukrainian beat Russian Anna Blinkova, 6-2 6-3, in the final of the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Saturday.
I would like to share this energy with Ukraine, with my homeland, All my prize money from this tournament is going to go to the kids of Ukraine, [which is] much needed in this tough moment. I would like to thank France for doing an unbelievable job, welcoming Ukrainians, doing everything possible for them to feel like it's their second home. So thank you so much for everything that you do for us, and together we gonna see the light and win the war. Merci. Slava Ukraini. Elina Svitolina
In just her 7th tournament at any level since her return from maternity leave in April, the two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist won her first WTA title in nearly 2 years, the last coming at the WTA 250 in Chicago in the summer of 2021.
Citing injuries and the mental toll of the Russian invasion of her home country, Svitolina took a sabbatical after the Miami Open last March, announced her pregnancy shortly after, gave birth to her daughter Skaï with husband Gael Monfils in October, and returned to the WTA Tour at the Credit One Charleston Open.
Svitolina entered this week in Strasbourg as a wild-card ranked 508, and is the lowest-ranked woman to win a tour title since an unranked Kim Clijsters at the 2009 US Open.
Her win in Strasbourg marks the 28-year-old’s 17th title on the WTA Tour, including winning the WTA Finals in 2018, and reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019, and it will push her 317 spots up in the rankings to World No 191.
The 1-hour, 33-minute triumph takes Ukraine’s most decorated player to 10-0 in WTA 250 finals, and 6-0 in clay-court finals in her career.
The outcome was in little doubt as Svitolina won the first 3 games of each set and never trailed in the match, breaking Blinkova 7 times.
The most notable game came early in the second, where Svitolina saved 3 break points in a staggering 11-deuce game to hold, and stretched her lead to 6-3, 2-0.
“I would like to share this energy with Ukraine, with my homeland,” she said. “All my prize money [$34,228] from this tournament is going to go to the kids of Ukraine, [which is] much needed in this tough moment.
“I would like to thank France for doing an unbelievable job, welcoming Ukrainians, doing everything possible for them to feel like it’s their second home.
“So thank you so much for everything that you do for us, and together we gonna see the light and win the war. Merci. Slava Ukraini.”
Svitolina has an intriguing 1st-round match at Roland Garros up next, against the No 26 seed and 2022 semi-finalist Martina Trevisan from Italy, who was forced to retire from her quarter-final match in Rabat this week due to injury.
Meanwhile, Blinkova will face Belgium’s Ysaline Bonaventure in her opening round, and the winner of that match could be a Round 2 challenge for 5th-seeded French favourite Caroline Garcia.
In the doubles final, Xu Yyfan & Yang Zhaoxuan become the champions after only an hour and 11 minutes of play, winning 6-3, 6-2 over Desirae Krawczyk & Guiliana Olmos.
Rabat | Grand Prix Son Altesse Royale La Princesse Lalla Meryem – Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti battled to her first WTA singles title at the Grand Prix Son Altesse Royale La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Saturday, overcoming Austria’s Julia Grabher, 6-4 5-7 7-5, in a back-and-forth final.
Both were seeking their first title, but it was Bronzetti, the World No 102, who prevailed after 2 hours and 48 minutes on the clay courts of Rabat in Morocco, taking her to a 2-1 lead in her head-to-head with 74th-ranked Grabher.
Bronzetti, who came back from a break down at 1-3 in the decider, is the second straight Italian to take the title in Rabat following compatriot Martina Trevisan, who hoisted the trophy in 2022.
Having reached the Palermo final last year and peaking at No 50 this January, Bronzetti punctuated a huge turn-around in her recent WTA-level play by landing this title, as the Italian had lost her last 10 tour-level main-draw matches ahead of coming to Rabat.
A home-soil run to the semi-finals of the WTA 125 event in Florence last week kick-started Bronzetti’s return to form, and she maintained that level in Rabat, where she was a semi-finalist last year.
Bronzetti was pushed all the way by Grabher in the final, but proved the sturdier off the ground in the early going, as she built a 6-4, 5-4 lead, and served for the championship.
Grabher’s powerful forehand became more effective as the match wore on, though, and the Austrian won the next 3 games to eke out the second set, while a drop-volley winner gave her a 3-1 lead in the decider, as she aimed to become the first Austrian WTA singles champion since 2013.
A Bronzetti passing winner in the following game, however, put the Italian back on track, and she eventually served for the match again at 5-4 in the third.
Another Grabher forehand winner allowed the Austrian to break back for 5-5, but she double-faulted down break point to cede another lead to the Italian, who, serving for the match for a third time at 6-5, fired a forehand winner to set up her first championship point, before closing out the match when Grabher sent her forehand wide.
Bronzetti converted 6 of 13 break points in the match, while Grabher was 5-for-11.
In Saturday’s doubles final, Sabrina Santamaria & Yana Sizikova squeaked past Lidziya Marozava & Ingrid Gamarra Martins, 3-6 6-1 [10-8], to take the title.
Santamaria & Sizikova took 1 hour and 28 minutes to eke out the win, in just their 3rd tournament together, having also teamed up at 2018 Tianjin and the 2021 Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne.
Sizikova won her 3rd WTA doubles title, having previously teamed with Anastasia Potapova to win 2019 Lausanne and 2022 Prague, while this is Santamaria’s 2nd WTA doubles title, after pairing with Catherine Harrison to win 2022 Monterrey.