Seoul | Alexandrova surges past Ostapenko to win Korea Open

Ekaterina Alexandrova won the Hana Bank Korea Open on Sunday, defeating top seed Jelena Ostapenko to win the WTA 250 title in Seoul.

I don’t know, but every single time I play here in Seoul, the previous tournament was terrible for me because I was losing almost every time before coming here. But anytime I come here, I find my game back. Ekaterina Alexandrova

The 2nd seed Russian got the better of the Latvian World No 19, 7-6(4) 6-0, after an hour and 25 minutes to clinch her second title of 2022.

Ostapenko, who was bidding to become the first two-time champion in Seoul’s 18-year history, began the final on an aggressive note to go up a break and lead 3-1 and then, again, 5-3, in the first set.

Alexandrova, though, rallied on both occasions to get the set back on serve as the affair moved into the tiebreak, then saving a set point before taking the lead in the match.

Ostapenko’s resistance gave way in the second after taking a medical timeout to receive treatment on her right foot when, with her movement visibly hampered, the remainder of the match became a formality as Alexandrova dropped just one more point, sealing the title with consecutive backhand winners.

“I don’t know, but every single time I play here in Seoul, the previous tournament was terrible for me because I was losing almost every time before coming here,” said Alexandrova at the post-match interview on Sunday. “But anytime I come here, I find my game back.

“That’s happened to few years ago, when I couldn’t win too much in a row, and did it for the first time here.

“Since then, for me, it’s kind of a special tournament because playing here is always good.

“I feel the course of the balls, maybe the weather, just everything comes together and it just feels really nice on the court.”


Jelena Ostapenko found herself outrun in the first set breaker and then was hampered by a foot injury in the second against Ekaterina Alexandrova on Sunday

© Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Alexandrova won 75% of her first-serve points to Ostapenko’s 56%, and while she won only 42% of her second-serve points, the 27-year-old did better when it came to winning points on second-serve return by winning 73%.

She converted 6 of the 7 break points she had on the Latvian’s serve, and saved 3 of the 6 break points she faced.

Alexandrova finished the match with 27 winners, 15 more than Ostapenko’s 12, and aso had fewer unforced errors,17 to the Latvian’s 27.

The Hana Bank Open is the 3rd WTA title of Alexandrova’s career, with her first coming at the Shenzhen International in 2020, and the second in S’Hertogenbosch earlier this year on the grass, while the 27-year-old also extended her head-to-head lead over Ostapenko to 5-2.


Ekaterina Alexandrova (L) shakes hands with Jelena Ostapenko after their women's singles final match at the Korea Open

© Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

Alexandrova proved the more lethal off the ground, and her quickness around the court proved key as she absorbed Ostapenko’s power and elicited errors, often turning defence into offence.

Nonetheless, Ostapenko kept her nose in front for much of the first set as the 25-year-old Latvian attacked the Alexandrova serve with relish, and led by a break at 2-0, 3-1 and 5-3.

She was unable, though, to maintain her intensity to consolidate any of these leads, and it was an Alexandrova service winner wiped out her sole set point at 6-5.

Similarly, Ostapenko could not hold onto a 2-0 lead in the ensuing breaker, and Alexandrova won 7 of the next 9 points to seal the opener with a marvellous inside-in forehand winner.

Ostapenko had come through significantly tougher battles en route to the final than Alexandrova, needing a 3rd-set tiebreak to get past Korean wild-card Jeong Boyoung, 6-4 3-6 7-6(2), in the 1st-round, saving a match point to defeat Anastasia Gasanova, 6-3 5-7 7-5, in the 2nd-round, and trailing British No 1 Emma Raducanu by a set and a break in the semi-finals.

Alexandrova, however, had dropped just one set, to Asia Muhammad in her opening match, in powering her way to the Kora Open title.


Doubles champions Kristina Mladenovic & Yanina Wickmayer defeated Asia Muhammad & Sabrina Santamaria in the Korea Open final

Playing together for the first time, the unseeded pair of Kristina Mladenovic & Yanina Wickmayer took the doubles title with a 6-3 6-2 final defeat of No 1 seeds Asia Muhammad & Sabrina Santamaria from America.

Frenchwoman Mladenovic & Wickmayer from Belgium faced down 2 match points in their 1sr-round to defeat Lizette Cabrera & Valentini Grammatikopoulou, 5-7 7-6(3) [11-9], but then did not drop another set all week.

The first set started out close, with the first 2 games reaching deuces before the European pair won both on the deciding point, then they gained the upper hand with a break of the 4th game to dominate proceedings before effectively shutting the Americans out to claim the opener.

The second began with an exchange of serves, but the tide once again turned to the Europeans as they took the American pair’s 3rd and 4th serves, quickly ending the match after an hour and 9 minutes.

Sunday’s win marks the first time that the European pair have won a trophy together.

For Mladenovic & Wickmayer, ranked No 135 and No 470 in the women’s doubles world rankings respectively, the win coming as some compensation for falling out of the singles in the round of 16 on Thursday.

For Wickmayer, it was a first trophy of any kind since her return from maternity leave in February.

“For me, this one is probably the most special one since it’s the first one after being a mother,” Wickmayer said on Sunday. “I am very happy with this title and especially sharing this moment with my best friend on tour is very precious and a moment I will probably never forget.

“I’m just very thankful and grateful to be able to be here, and win this title in front of so many fans, so I’m really enjoying this one.”

The Belgian had previously won 2 WTA doubles titles, at Luxembourg 2013 with Stephanie Vogt and at Washington 2016 with Monica Niculescu.

Former doubles World No 1 Mladenovic collected her 3rd trophy of 2022, all with different partners, following Roland Garros alongside Caroline Garcia and Lausanne alongside Olga Danilovic, and took her overall haul of WTA doubles titles to 27.



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