Blinkova defeats Paolini in Cluj-Napoca for first WTA singles title

Blinkova defeats Paolini in Cluj-Napoca for first WTA singles title

Anna Blinkova started the Transylvania Open in last weekend’s qualifying rounds, and she ended the event by capturing her first Hologic WTA Tour singles title.

In her first tour-level final, World No.138 Blinkova outlasted 74th-ranked Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to cap off a dream week in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Blinkova needed 1 hour and 41 minutes to prevail and hoist her first WTA singles championship trophy.

“I’m feeling so good, and I cannot even describe my emotions because I just finished a very tough match,” Blinkova said afterward. “Actually, all the matches were very tough, and I’m extremely happy to be able to go through all the challenges and stay mentally strong and mentally stable.”

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Blinkova becomes the fifth qualifier to win a singles title on the WTA Tour this season, joining Tatjana Maria (Bogota), Anastasia Potapova (Istanbul), Bernarda Pera (Budapest) and Caroline Garcia (Cincinnati).

Moreover, 24-year-old Blinkova is projected to return to the Top 100 for the first time since last September. Her career-high ranking is World No.54, achieved in February of 2020.

Cluj-Napoca: Blinkova outlasts Paolini for first WTA title

2022 Cluj-Napoca

Blinkova and Paolini had a 2-2 head-to-head coming into the final, but Paolini had taken recent control of their meetings, winning their last two matches with the loss of just seven games combined.

Blinkova, however, reclaimed the momentum in their rivalry on Sunday. Her aggressive play led to 35 winners, outpacing Paolini’s 23. Additionally, Blinkova only had two more unforced errors than Paolini (22 to 20), and she converted six of her 10 break points on the day.

“I was focusing on not being afraid, being courageous, going through the ball, accelerating the hand, and it helped me to win in the end,” Blinkova said.

The power play from Blinkova very nearly garnered her a straight-sets win, as she blasted her way to a set-and-a-break lead at 6-2, 3-2. But two double faults at the end of that game allowed Paolini to claw back on serve.

Paolini seized that opportunity, finding a bevy of sterling forehand winners down the stretch of that set. Paolini reeled off four straight games and swiped the second set.

But Blinkova rebounded in the decider, taking charge with bold play in the forecourt and stalwart returns to knock off the final four games of the clash and collect her breakthrough title.

In Sunday’s doubles final, No.1 seeds Kirsten Flipkens and Laura Siegemund completed a pristine week with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Kamilla Rakhimova and Yana Sizikova.

The top seeds prevailed in an hour and a half, wrapping up a run through the draw where they did not drop any sets. In the championship match, Flipkens and Siegemund converted four of their 10 break points and won 55 percent of points returning second serves.

Siegemund is up to nine career WTA double titles, and this is her third of the year. Siegemund also won 2022 titles in Miami and Lyon alongside Vera Zvonareva, with whom she also won the 2020 US Open.

Flipkens, who retired from singles earlier this year, wins her sixth career WTA doubles title, and her first since 2019.

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