MONTERREY, México - Timea Babos continued her breakthrough Latin American swing at the Whirlpool Monterrey Open on Sunday night, claiming her first WTA title with a 64 64 final win over Alexandra Cadantu.
Having gone into Bogotá last week with just one WTA main draw match win to her name, the 18-year-old Babos surprised everyone with her first WTA semifinal. She managed to surpass that in Monterrey, taking out some of the best players in the draw to reach her very first WTA final - among her victims en route were No.3 seed Sorana Cirstea and No.2 seed Sara Errani.
Meanwhile, on the other half of the draw, Cadantu also took out two seeds en route to her first WTA final, but on the day it was Babos who lifted her game higher one more time, never losing serve - in fact never even being pushed to deuce on her serve - and recording one critical break of serve per set.
"I was actually surprised because it was my first final and I wasn't nervous or tight," Babos said just after the final. "I just tried to play my tennis and stay aggressive. I was also really trying to keep my serve all the time, and she didn't have a break point, which was really positive for me. Then as soon as I had a chance on her serve I played a good point or hit a winner when I really needed it.
"I had some big wins this week, like Sara Errani, who is a great player, and the toughest battle of the week for me. I'm so happy with how I played this week.
"I'm so glad to make it. This is a really new feeling. It feels amazing."
So what happened in the last two weeks that made Babos go from a 1-2 career record in WTA main draw play to 9-3? "I wasn't playing WTAs much before this, but I was winning 25Ks and 50Ks and then second round of Australian Open qualies - the losses were always so tight, but in the past weeks and past month I've had such a good record. I also got my first Top 100 win in Fed Cup over Johanna Larsson. My results have just been coming up and something may have changed in my mind, because I'm playing looser. I'm enjoying it!"
And what's next for the WTA's newest champion? "I was going to play Acapulco qualies but I couldn't, obviously, because I was still playing here! So I'm going there but only to play doubles. Then a 100,000 in the Bahamas, a little rest, then three more WTAs. It's all big tournaments from now. I can't wait!"
Earlier, No.1 seeds Errani and Roberta Vinci won their sixth WTA doubles title together with a 62 76(6) win over No.2 seeds Kimiko Date-Krumm and Zhang Shuai. Errani and Vinci had a straight set semifinal win over former doubles World No.1s Gisela Dulko and Paola Suárez too; now they add to prior titles at Marbella and Barcelona in 2010 and Hobart, Pattaya City and Palermo in 2011.
"The second set had a lot of big points and we had to fight very hard," Errani said. "The key was to play how we know how to play, being aggressive but also being able to change strategies when we needed to. You win some and you lose some, and today we were able to play well. We're so happy to win today.
"We're going to try to carry our momentum into other tournaments, and some bigger tournaments like the Masters, Grand Slams and hopefully Olympics. It won't be easy but we're very motivated and we'll try our best."