WTA

Paolini overcomes Riske to win first WTA singles title in Portoroz

By Sports Desk September 19, 2021

Jasmine Paolini battled to a straight-sets victory over Alison Riske in Sunday's Portoroz final to win her maiden WTA singles title.

World number 87 Paolini had already eliminated three seeded players to reach her first final and she recovered from a slow start to see off another 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Third seed Riske led 5-2 in the first set after breaking her opponent's serve three times in the opening seven games, but Paolini dug deep and took four games on the spin.

The Italian used that momentum in the tie-break to open up a 5-2 advantage before getting over the line with her second set point.

After a gruelling 63-minute opening set, Paolini found the second a more straightforward affair as she broke for 3-2 and reeled off the remaining games, the last of those points coming via an error-forcing forehand.

Paolini, who won two-thirds of her second-service points and converted six of her 10 break points, is glad her hard work has paid off with a first singles success at the age of 25.

"It's been an amazing week here in Portoroz," she said in her on-court interview. "I feel just very happy, it's a big achievement for me, to win my first title. It's special to do it on the hard court.

"It wasn't easy to go through to the final. I'm proud of myself because I never gave up.

"I'm working really hard in the past couple of months. I understood more about my game, I think. I just want to keep this level for all the season that is almost finished, and to stay strong and keep this level."

Related items

  • Osaka storms to victory in Madrid opener to end long wait for win on clay Osaka storms to victory in Madrid opener to end long wait for win on clay

    Naomi Osaka comprehensively dispatched Greet Minnen on Tuesday to make a winning start to her Madrid Open campaign and earn a first win on clay for two years.

    Japanese star Osaka triumphed 6-4 6-1 in only 79 minutes, swiftly booking a second-round clash against Liudmila Samsonova.

    Osaka reached the last 32 at the WTA 1000 events on the hard courts of Indian Wells and Miami but had lost to Martina Trevisan at the first hurdle in the Open de Rouen on clay at WTA 250 level last week.

    This was therefore a welcome return to form against Belgian qualifier Minnen and represented her first triumph on the surface since beating Anastasia Potapova at this tournament in 2022.

    After an even start to the contest, the first set was level at 4-4. But Osaka then assumed full control, winning eight of nine games to race to victory.

    Data Debrief: Osaka dominates on serve

    Osaka was not broken at all in the match and allowed Minnen only one break-point opportunity across the whole contest.

    She fired down eight aces to only three double faults, and won 13 of her 16 first-serve points in the second set.

  • Alcaraz: Stopping world's best Sinner not easy in Madrid Alcaraz: Stopping world's best Sinner not easy in Madrid

    Carlos Alcaraz considers "dangerous" Jannik Sinner as the world's best player and the man to beat at the Madrid Open.

    Sinner has won three titles in 2024, including his maiden grand slam crown at the Australian Open, and is the top seed in the Spanish capital.

    Novak Djokovic is absent from the Masters 1000 tournament but will remain the top men's player regardless of how far Sinner advances.

    And while the Italian's only appearance on clay this year saw him lose to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals of the Monte-Carlo Masters, Alcaraz knows full well what he is up against should the pair cross paths.

    "He's dangerous. He's the best player in the world right now," Alcaraz said in his pre-tournament news conference.

    "I think [some people] think his tennis doesn't suit well to the clay, but he has had results on clay as well.

    "He can win every tournament he goes to, and obviously I'm fighting with him and with Novak to be world number one. I'm trying to stay there, but honestly it is going to be difficult."

    World number three Alcaraz was unable to compete in Monte-Carlo, as well as the Barcelona Open, due to an arm injury.

    However, the Spaniard is relishing the chance of returning to clay-court action on home soil when his pursuit of a 14th Tour-level title begins against either Arthur Rinderknech or Alexander Shevchenko on Saturday.

    "For me, it's really important to be at 100 per cent here in this tournament," he said. "Playing here is so special.

    "It's the tournament where a lot of family can come to watch my matches, a lot of friends as well, and for me it's really special to play in front of my home crowd as well.

    "I would love to play at 100 per cent just to give them the opportunity to enjoy my tennis and give myself the chance to get a good result here."

    Alcaraz is aiming to become the first player to win three successive Madrid Open crowns and is on a collision course to meet Sinner in the final.

    The 20-year-old ended Sinner's winning streak with victory in their BNP Paribas Open final showdown last month, with that a rare blemish for the latter.

    While Sinner has been the best male player this year, boasting a record of 25 wins to two losses, he believes there is still room for improvement.

    "I don't want to put pressure on myself," he told reporters ahead of the tournament. "I'm living a very positive moment, winning a lot of matches.

    "I just try to keep going like this. In my mind, I know that I can and have to improve if I want to win more.

    "I am searching for new opportunities and I feel like that every tournament I play, there can be a good opportunity trying to show that my level has raised. 

    "Showing what I have improved and that's for sure something that I would like to do here. This is a new opportunity, new tournament and we'll see how it goes."

  • Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025 Boris Becker ‘working hard with the authorities’ to return to Wimbledon in 2025

    Boris Becker says he is “working hard with the authorities” to return to the UK and Wimbledon in 2025.

    The three-time Wimbledon men’s singles champion was deported from the UK in December 2022 after serving eight months of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for hiding £2.5m of assets and loans in a bankruptcy fraud case.

    Becker cannot return to the UK until October 2024 at the earliest following his deportation, but the 56-year-old German plans to return to the tournament he says is “in my DNA” as soon as possible.

    “Wimbledon has been my favourite tournament as a player, coach and commentator,” Becker said at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Madrid.

    “It’s unique, you can’t compare it.

    “I lived in Wimbledon a long time so I’m working hard with the authorities to have all the applications ready to be back for next year. We’re working on 2025.

    “It’s a part of my life. It’s in my DNA, you can’t deny that.”

    Asked if he would be back in the Wimbledon commentary box, Becker replied: “I hope so.”

    Becker has not been involved in tennis since stepping down as Holger Rune’s head coach at the start of February.

    The pair spent less than four months together, but in that time the 20-year-old qualified for the ATP finals in Italy.

    ::The 25th Laureus World Sports Awards take place on Monday evening in Madrid. To find out more, and follow the ceremony, visit www.laureus.com

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.