New Haven - Belarusian
youngster Aryna Sabalenka won her first WTA Tour title on Saturday,
defeating Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-4 to capture the
Connecticut Open crown.
Sabalenka, a 20-year-old from Minsk, will break the world's top 20
for the first time in her career as a result of the championship-winning
run on the New Haven hardcourts ahead of the US Open.
"It was a tough match for me. I was nervous a little bit, the second set even more," Sabalenka said.
"I was too much nervous when I was serving for the match. I told myself just do it and everything will be fine and I got it."
It was the fourth career WTA final for Sabalenka, having settled for
runner-up efforts last October at Tianjin, losing the final to Maria
Sharapova, as well as in Lugano and Eastbourne earlier this year.
Sabalenka, who faces American Danielle Collins in the first round of
next week's US Open, has five triumphs this year over top-10 foes and
reached the semi-finals in Cincinnati earlier this month.
"I feel pretty fine. I have energy for US Open. I am ready mentally,"
she said. "I feel I'm going to fight no matter what. I feel like a
Sabalenka blasted a forehand winner for her second break and a 4-0
lead in the opening set, before serving it out after just 24 minutes.
Sabalenka and Suarez Navarro exchanged service breaks in the seventh
and eighth games of the second set, the Belarus battler double faulting
to allow the Spaniard to pull level at 4-4.
In the ninth game, Sabalenka won a challenge to wipe out what had
been called a game-winning ace by Suarez Navarro and blasted a forehand
winner on her third break-point chance for a 5-4 advantage.
Suarez Navarro saved two match points in the final game but a service
winner denied the Spaniard on a break-point chance before Sabalenka
blasted two forehand winners to seal the title.
Suarez Navarro, 29, was only on court for three hours and nine
minutes entering the final, less than half the total time for Sabalenka
thanks to a second-round walkover and retirements by her quarter-final
and semi-final foes.
"I want to congratulate Aryna for an incredible tournament," Suarez
Navarro said. "We leave here with the trophy we didn't want but it was a
very good week."
World number 30 Suarez Navarro was in her first final since winning
her second WTA title two-and-a-half years ago at the 2016 Qatar Open.
Her only other WTA tournament victory came at the 2014 Portugal Open.
The 30th-seeded Spaniard will face American qualifier Nicole Gibbs in the first round of US Open.