Marrakech - Elina Svitolina won a tight two-setter against fellow WTA rising star
Timea Babos to conquer the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in
Marrakech, Morocco, the WTA's only stop in Africa.
Babos, who had taken out No 5 seed Mona Barthel and No 3 seed Flavia
Pennetta en route to the final, certainly had her chances against the No
4-seeded Svitolina - she led 5-2 in the first set with a set point in
that game and four more at 5-4, and she was two points from the second
set at 5-4 too.
But Svitolina came through in the clutch every single time, winning the
last 11 points of the first set and racing through the second set
tie-break to prevail after an hour and 48 minutes, 7-5, 7-6(3).
Svitolina is also putting together quite the reputation in finals -
she's now 3-0 in WTA finals, winning her other two finals at Baku in
2013 and 2014. She's won all three finals in straight sets, as well.
Svitolina now heads to Madrid for the Premier Mandatory-level Mutua
Madrid Open. Her first match is on Sunday against Daniela Hantuchova -
the two players will be playing each other for the first time.
The doubles final was played on Friday, with Babos and Kristina
Mladenovic, the No 1 seeds, holding off a late charge from unseeded duo
Laura Siegemund and Maryna Zanevska to win in straights, 6-1, 7-6(5).
It was Babos and Mladenovic's second WTA doubles title together, having
won the Premier-level event in Dubai earlier this year as well. Babos
now has nine WTA doubles titles to her name, Mladenovic 10.
The Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, the WTA's only stop in
Africa, was celebrating its 15th year on the WTA calendar this year.
It's been held in a variety of cities in Morocco - Casablanca from 2001
to 2004, Rabat in 2005 and 2006, Fès from 2007 to 2012 and Marrakech
French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and former Top 20 players
Meghann Shaughnessy and Anabel Medina Garrigues are among the former
champions. No player has ever won it twice.
One of the big themes of the tournament this year was the success of the
WTA rising stars - four of them made it into the quarterfinals, and all
four prevailed in those quarter-finals. In the semifinals, Svitolina
beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Babos beat friend and doubles partner