Elina Svitolina battled to her first title since the 2018 WTA Finals when she defeated Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, 7-5 4-6 6-4, in a gritty three-hour at the Abierto GNP Seguros final in Monterrey.
There were no easy ways after losing the second set. I really had to regroup and clear my mind, and be really on it and just keep working. Elina Svitolina
“It was an amazing battle,” Svitolina said during the trophy presentation. “Marie was fighting great, and I think it was a very high-level match.
“We’ve both been playing good, we were fighting, and there were no easy games.
“I think the people really pushed us to play our best, and it was amazing to get the support from the Mexican people.”
Bouzkova, playing in her first WTA final at the age of 21, was a surprise finalist and she tested the top seed from the onset.
In a match of fine margins, the Ukrainian managed to hold her nerve, breaking her rival 5 times during the match and winning 67% of her first service points to Bouzkova’s 45 percent.
The hard-fought victory ends a title drought of over a year for the World No 7.
“It feels amazing,” Svitolina added. “It’s another step towards my goals, and I’m moving in the right direction. I’m happy that it’s going the right way.”
She was under early pressure as Bouzkova broke in the opening marathon game of the match, but they were back on level terms 3 games later before Svitolina broke again in game 12 to take the set.
Then the Czech used a single break of serve in game 7 of the second set to draw level.
The decider was a topsy-turvy affair as Bouzkova again broke in game 1 only for the Ukrainian to win the next 4 games for a 4-1 lead.
Svitolina fired 6 aces against Bouzkova, the World No 57 but, at 5-3 and serving for the match in the decider, had to overcome a late blip to secure the trophy as the Czech mounted an impressive fightback, breaking to narrow the gap.
In the next game, however, Bouzkova found herself in trouble on serve, as Svitolina garnered 2 match points and, at her first chance, a deft drop-shot forced an error from her opponent, and the trophy went to the No 1 seed.
“There were no easy ways after losing the second set,” Svitolina stated. “I really had to regroup and clear my mind, and be really on it and just keep working.”
Prior to this week, the 25-year-old had only managed to win back-to-back matches in 2 out of her last 5 tournaments played.
In Mexico she dropped only one set in the 5 matches she played, which was against Bouzkova.
The win elevates Svitolina two spots up the rankings to return back in the world’s top 5, while Bouzkova rises 10 places to a career high of 47th in the world.
Monterrey is Svitolina’s 14th WTA title in her career, 10 of which have been won on a hard courts.