GSTAAD, Switzerland -- No.1 seed Alizé Cornet of France needed to survive a spirited effort from first-time finalist Mandy Minella of Luxembourg to win the final of the Ladies' Championship Gstaad, 6-4, 7-6(6), for her sixth career singles title.
"It was a very close match, I had a feeling it could go either way," Cornet told the media, after her victory. "I think I was maybe a bit more solid in the crucial moments, and I really wanted this trophy. I gave everything I had."
Cornet won the long two-set final in just over two hours, racing through the field in Gstaad without the loss of a set all week to claim her first championship since triumphing in Hobart in 2016. It was the second win in a row for Cornet over Minella, as the Frenchwoman had also won their previous meeting in Nassau in 2012.
"Two and a half years without a title," Cornet mused afterwards. "I’ve been through tough moments in these last two-and-a-half years, especially this last season was tough on me, so it means the world to me to have this title, to win here in Gstaad."
"I had an amazing week, it’s like everything was meant to be," the titlist continued. "Everything was perfect this week and I was feeling great on the court, everything was going well. I was seed No.1 and I did the job, so it’s great satisfaction."
Minella fended off two match points at 6-5 in the second set and then held two set points during the second-set tiebreak, before Cornet rebounded in the deciding breaker to win the final four points and emerge victorious.
The top-seeded Frenchwoman won nearly half of the points on Minella's first serve, although the new mother from Luxembourg kept the match close by fending off three-quarters of the whopping 20 break points Cornet held in the match.
"It was very intense physically, I’m surprised how strong [Minella] is after giving birth to her little girl," said Cornet. "She’s coming back unbelievable, she’s ready. She was sometimes better than me in the rallies, and this is one of my strengths, so, very glad to be through in two sets."
Minella took the early lead in the topsy-turvy opening set, breaking for a 2-1 lead behind powerful hitting from the forehand side. But Cornet doggedly pulled herself into the lead, breaking back for 2-2 on her sixth break point of a marathon game, and again needing six break points in a single game before claiming another break for 4-2.
More strong Minella groundstrokes allowed the player from Luxembourg to pull back on serve in the following game, as she broke Cornet by forcing an error with a solid crosscourt forehand. Minella then quickly held at love to knot the closely contested set at 4-4.
But Cornet continued to fire shots with tremendous depth at Minella, pushing the unseeded player back into the court and finding winners in the corners when she could. A quick hold by the Frenchwoman for 5-4 put the pressure squarely on Minella, and in the next game, Minella fired a forehand wide to give Cornet set point. There, a drop shot winner by Cornet gave her the one-set lead.
Minella started the second set in the lead as well, as Cornet plopped a drop shot attempt into the net while down break point in the first game. A forehand winner by Minella clinched the second game of the set, as the player from Luxembourg opened up a 2-0 lead. Minella, however, initially could not hold onto her advantage, dropping serve at 2-2 via a netted backhand miscue.
But Minella broke serve to lead 4-3 and then survived two break points to hold for a crucial 5-3 advantage. After a love hold by Cornet, Minella served for the set, but Cornet reached double break point with a forehand winner, and a backhand error by Minella on the Frenchwoman’s first opportunity leveled the set at 5-5.
Cornet then held for 6-5, saving a break point by forcing an error from Minella with a sound backhand in the process. The top seed then held two match points on Minella’s serve at 6-5, but effective serving and consistent overheads by Minella allowed her to escape that game and send the set into a tiebreak.
In the breaker, Cornet double faulted to hand a 5-3 lead to Minella, and two points later, Cornet sent a backhand return into the net to give Minella double set point at 6-4. But a return winner saved the first, and the second was saved with a stunning reflex backhand, to reach 6-6. Two forehand errors from Minella followed, and a triumphant Cornet collapsed to the ground in delight.