SEOUL– Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia captured the WTA Hana Bank Korea Open singles title on Sunday, toppling the top seed for her first title in Seoul.
Alexandrova, No. 2 seed here, defeated No. 1 seed from Latvia, Jelena Ostapenko, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0, at Olympic Park Tennis Center in Seoul. Alexandrova improved to 5-2 against Ostapenko for their careers.
Ostapenko, the 2017 Korea Open champion, was trying to become the first two-time winner of the lone WTA tournament in South Korea. She became a huge fan favorite during her 2017 title run, which came weeks after her first Grand Slam victory at the French Open, and had the backing of partisans fans on Sunday, too.
But Alexandrova, world No. 24, proved too much for the 19th-ranked Ostapenko in the final, with Ostapenko playing with a right big toe injury after losing the first three games of the second set.
This was Alexandrova’s second WTA title of 2022, and third of her career.
“I just love the tournament and the city,” Alexandrova told the crowd during the award ceremony, adding that ‘bulgogi’ (grilled marinated beef) and ‘kimchi jjigae’ (spicy stew) are her two favorite Korean dishes. “It was a pleasure to play here. It was an amazing week for me.”
Ostapenko said she was “really disappointed” with the way the final played out, with her toe injury preventing her from playing her best.
“I had to take the chances in the first set when I had them,” she said. “Next time, I will come back stronger.”
Alexandrova rallied from a 5-3 deficit to win the first set in a tiebreak.
Ostapenko went up 2-0 early, taking advantage of Alexandrova’s double fault and other miscues. The Russian won the third game but got broken again to go down 3-1.
Alexandrova slowly found her groove, relying on some great backhand shots to pull even at 3-3.
Ostapenko won the next two games, though, coming out on the winning end of some impressive rallies with sharp groundstrokes.
She was now serving for the set, but Alexandrova dug deep for a few great returns to make it 5-4. She then overcame a double fault to hold her serve for a 5-5 tie.
Ostapenko won the next game but was off the mark with her groundstrokes in what could have been her set-clinching game, allowing Alexandrova to force a tiebreak.
Ostapenko grabbed the first two points in the tiebreak but Alexandrova fought back to take a 5-3 lead with an ace and a strong backhand winner. A powerful forehand winner close out the tiebreak at 7-4 and the first set at 7-6.
The second set, however, followed a vastly different script. Alexandrova claimed the first three games, and then Ostapenko called a medical timeout to get her right foot treated. With her movements clearly compromised, Ostapenko looked overmatched from that point and on.
She got broken in the next game, which included a double fault and some subpar shots. Alexandrova then went up 5-0 without dropping a point.
With Ostapenko unable to chase down any shots, Alexandrova broke her opponent in every sense of the word and finished off her victory with a backhand winner.
The first set took one hour but Alexandrova only needed 25 minutes to capture the deciding set.
Source: Yonhap News Agency