Unseeded Siniakova wins Shenzhen Open for first-ever WTA crown
Shenzhen (China), Jan 7 (IANS) Czech Republic’s budding tennis star Katernia Siniakova savoured her success at the $750,000 Shenzhen Open here on Saturday as she overcame eighth seed Alison Riske of the United States in the final 6-3, 6-4 to claim her first-ever WTA title.
“The feelings are so good, I’m just so happy that I won my first title. This match today was really hard for me, I think I didn’t show my best, but anyway I played quite well to win the title,” said the unseeded Siniakova, the youngest in the tournament, who will celebrate her 21st birthday on May 10, reports Xinhua news agency.
The fifth game of the opening set became the turning point of the final, where Siniakova rallied from being 0-40 down to score six points in a row and keep her own game.
She broke Riske in the following one and held her game again for a 4-2 lead before rushing forward in a hurry to collect the set 6-3.
“She was the better player today for sure, so she deserves the title. It was a learning experience for me. I’m very pleased with my week however, even though I lost today, I look forward to my next tournament,” said Riske, six years senior to Siniakova.
Riske will climb to her career-high WTA ranking next week. She also enjoyed sweet revenge for her defeat in last year’s final with a commanding victory over top-seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the semi-final here on Friday.
Siniakova, who started tennis at the age of five, continued her strong performance in the second set as she broke Riske twice in the third and fifth games to march close to her first crown with a 4-1 lead.
Although Riske geared herself up to win some games later, Siniakova sealed the match in the 10 games without much sweat.
Ranked 52nd in the world, Siniakova has stunned two top-10 players en-route to the final, second-seed Simona Halep of Romania in the second round and third-seed Johanna Konta of Britain in the semi-final.
“I think this tournament was great for me, as I beat so many great players and I feel my confidence can grow up a little bit. But anyway, every match is different so I still need to work a lot, continue to work on my game,” said Siniakova, who has reached three finals of WTA events in the past six months, including Bastad, Sweden and Tokyo, Japan last year.
In their lone previous encounter, Siniakova defeated Riske 6-2, 6-4 in the quarter-final of the Tokyo tournament last year.
Asked about her goal this season, Siniakova said she wants to finish among the top 20.
“As for my whole career, it’s my dream to become world number one, so I would just fight for it,” said the 20-year-old Czech.
In the doubles final, home favourite Peng Shuai won the championship pairing with Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic.
The Chinese-Czech duo beat Raluca Olaru of Romania and Olga Savchuk of Ukraine 6-1, 7-5 in two straight sets 6-1, 7-5.