Belgium’s Elise Mertens, the No 2 seed, up-ended top-seeded Jasmine Paolini from Italy on Sunday to successfully defend her title at the Jasmin Open Monastir in Tunisia.
Mertens capped a dominant run by defeating Paolini, 6-3 6-0, to lift the trophy, her 8th career singles title, without being threatened all week.
The Belgian looked comfortable on the Monastir courts, winning all 5 matches without dropping a set and with an average of just 4 games lost per match.
Ranked as high as 12th in the world, Mertens recorded wins over Alexandra Eala, Iryna Shymanovich, Mai Hontama and Clara Burel.
In fact, she lost more than 3 games in just one set and, in the final, took 63% of the total points played, 57 of 91, while converting 6 of 11 break points and dominating with 74% points won on her first serve, compared to 40% from Paolini in the 70-minute match.
A highly competitive final had been anticipated, but Mertens asserted her authority right from the beginning of the match, dashing Paolini’s hopes of adding another title to her career.
The week has been a much-needed confidence boost for the 27-year-old Belgian, who had only reached the semi-final stage in one out of her last 21 tournaments played before this week.
As a result of her triumph, Mertens will return inside the world’s top 30 on Monday.
The previous head-to-head record between Mertens and Paolini favoured the Belgian, 2-1, with all previous matches going the distance, but Paolini looked visibly fatigued, having reached the semi-finals of the WTA 500 Zhengzhou Open the week before, and enduring the long journey from China to Monastir in Tunisia.
While the past 3 encounters between these two had been 3-set affairs, this time, Mertens won the last 10 games of the match to deny Paolini her second career title.
The Italian has now lost her last 3 singles finals since winning her maiden title in her first final in Portoroz in 2021.
Nevertheless, the Italian did achieve a notable feat in the doubles, where she secured the title alongside her Italian compatriot Sara Errani.
They mounted a stunning come-back from a 6-2, 5-1 deficit against Japan’s Mai Hontama & Natalija Stevanovic from Serbia to claim their first title as a pair, 2-6 7-6(4) [10-6].
It is former doubles World No 1 Errani’s 28th career WTA doubles title, and a first with Paolini, and Paolini’s second.