There is joy in Denmark, as Clara Tauson won her first career WTA title on Sunday at the Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon when she defeated fellow qualifier Viktorija Golubic in the final, 6-4 6-1.
I think when I play like this, like I’ve done the whole week, I can beat good players,. Of course, it’s not every week that I play like this for 7 matches. I don’t want to say it’s easy because I’ve worked so hard for this. That it’s coming now is more surprising. Clara Tauson
Aged just 18 years and 76 days, Tauson produced a dominant performance and capping off a superb week in Lyon during which she did not drop a single set in 7 matches.
After Caroline Wozniacki’s retirement last year, Danish tennis was left wondering how long it would be before someone would take up the mantle for Denmark.
They need wait no more as the Danish teenager storms into the top 100 for the first time.
For the record, Wozniacki was 18 years and 54 days old when she won her first WTA title but who is counting.
Tauson dominated the field in Lyon, knocking out the World No 33, 73, 81, 105 and 130 on her way, in Ekaterina Alexandrova, Timea Babos, Camila Giorgi, Paula Badosa and Golubic, on top of 2 rounds of qualifying, and registering an impressive 14-0.
The win sees the 2019 junior Australian Open champion jump from No 139 in the world to 96, and will now gain automatic qualify for the Grand Slam tournaments, the next being the French Open in May.
“I think I played aggressive, I think I played my game, even though I missed a few balls,” Tauson said, after her win. “I didn’t really think too much about winning or losing, I thought about playing my game and just playing one point at a time, and that helped a lot.”
In the first WTA final between two qualifiers since 2017, Tauson needed 6 championship points to get past the Swiss challenge after 87 minutes of play.
In just her third WTA main-draw appearance, Tauson charged through the draw with the loss of 35 games.
“I think I’ve been really solid; especially after the first set, I’ve come out good in every single match,” Tauson said. “I just kept my game going.
“It’s been a weird week like that, normally I have some fall-outs, but I haven’t had any of those this week, so I’m very happy with that.”
Tauson kicked off her main-draw campaign with an upset of top seed Alexandrova, and rolled on to hoisting the trophy from there, improving her 2021 win-loss record to 19-3, including ITF Challenger and qualifying results.
On Sunday, a bevy of breaks occurred in the first set, with 7 of the 10 games won by the returner.
After dropping serve in the opening game, Tauson used her penetrating groundstrokes to take leads at 4-2 and 5-3, only to see them swatted away both times by error-forcing play from Golubic.
The Swiss, who was seeking her second career WTA title, fell behind 0-40 in the next game but saved 3 set points to pull back to deuce, only to then gift the set to Tauson after a double-fault and a backhand miscue.
Tauson raced ahead to 5-0 in the second, and held 4 championship points to end her week with a bagel, but aggressive play by Golubic pulled her out of the lengthy game and put her on the scoreboard.
At 5-1, Tauson squandered a 5th match point and had to save 2 break points before reaching her 6th chance, but pinpoint hitting by the teenager propelled her through another challenging game, and she closed out victory by forcing an error with one final fabulous forehand.
“I think when I play like this, like I’ve done the whole week, I can beat good players,” she said. “Of course, it’s not every week that I play like this for 7 matches.
“I don’t want to say it’s easy because I’ve worked so hard for this. That it’s coming now is more surprising.”
All told, Tauson won 72 percent of points returning second serves to lead her to her win in an hour and a half, and a projected spot in the Top 100 of the WTA singles rankings for the first time.
The doubles championship was also determined on Sunday, with top seeds Viktoria Kuzmova & Arantxa Rus edging Eugenie Bouchard & Olga Danilovic, 3-6 7-5 [10-7] in the final.
Kuzmova & Rus, the top seeds from Slovakia and Netherlands respectively, had not dropped a set en route to the final, but were pushed to the limit by the unseeded pair of Canada’s Bouchard & Danilovic from Serbia before claiming victory after an hour and a half.
Kuzmova collected her 3rd WTA doubles title, while it is a 4th WTA doubles title for Rus, but their first title as a doubles pair.