Elise Mertens lifts her third career title in Lugano
Number 2 seed Elise Mertens beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 6-2 at the Samsung Open in Lugano to lift the third title of her career and the first on clay after winning in Hobart for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2008.
This year’s Australian Open semifinalist had to dig deep to beat Marketa Vondrousova in the second round before winning two consecutive three-set matches against Mona Barthel and Vera Lapko en route to reaching the final after a tough week affected by rain. She also played a third match in the doubles on Saturday.
The Belgian player hit nine winners to seven unforced errors. Sabalenka produced 24 winners (including three aces) but made 35 unforced errors.
Mertens got the first break of the match in the third game of the opening set at deuce to take a 2-1 lead. Sabalenka, who lost her only previous final in Tianjin, held serve at love before breaking back to draw level to 3-3 with a backhand down the line. Sabalenka saved two break points to hold serve in the ninth game for 5-4 but Mertens reeled off the final three games to clinch the first set 7-5. Mertens got the break at love, when Sabalenka netted a backhand. Mertens held serve to take a one-set lead in the next game.
The Belgian player got a double break in the first and seventh games and held serve to close out the match after 1 hour and 24 minutes. Sabalenka double faulted to face a second break point in the first game of the second set. Mertens got the break when Sabalenka sent a backhand wide. Mertens never faced a break point in the second set. Mertens got the second break at 4-2 with a backhand passing shot and served out on her first match point.
Mertens will team up with her compatriot Kirsten Flipkens in the doubles match final against Sabalenka and Vera Lapko later today.
Mertens will move up to world number 17 in the WTA Ranking after this win.
“So many games were 40-40 and it could have gone either way, but I am really happy that I pulled through yesterday and the day before, because these weren’t easy. It was a great match today and I hope everyone here today liked it. I have been practicing a lot. I have got a good team around me. This week my dadi s with me. He does not come with me that often. It’s really great to make a bit more family history here, because my grandparents actually had their honeymoon here many years ago”, said Mertens.