BASTAD, Sweden - It had been a difficult last few months for her, but there's just something about Bastad. Polona Hercog beat Mathilde Johansson in a thriller to defend her Sony Swedish Open title and revive her 2012 season.
Last year Hercog won her first and so far only WTA title in Bastad, but the outlook didn't look so good coming in this year - she hadn't won a match in two and a half months, falling first round at four tournaments in a row and having to withdraw from a slew of others due to a back injury. She slipped 50 spots down the rankings in that stretch, going from No.36 all the way down to No.86.
But she couldn't have turned things around any more dramatically this week, winning five matches in a row - including upsets over No.2 seed Julia Goerges and No.7 seed Mona Barthel - and a 06 64 75 victory over Johansson in the final. Johansson won the first seven games of the match before Hercog came alive, taking the second set and building a 5-1 lead in the third with match point; Johansson saved that and closed to 5-all, but Hercog finished strong.
"In a final everybody wants to win, so the nerves kick in a lot - I'm just happy I could calm myself down in the last two games," Hercog said. "It was a lot of fighting today and a lot of ups and downs, and I'm very happy to win. Second year in a row is amazing - to be invincible here for two years is unbelievable.
"Bastad has some kind of magic power for me, I guess!"
"In the first set I felt so good and played so well, but then I started to make some mistakes and she started playing much heavier and deeper," Johansson said. "In the end it was better again but I couldn't finish it - I should have won.
"But I'll still have very good memories from this week. There was a very good atmosphere and the people are so gentle. Of course I'll be back next year!"
Hercog is now 2-2 in WTA finals, both of her titles coming here and all four of her finals coming on clay. Johansson is now 0-2 in WTA finals, having finished runner-up at Bogota last year, also on clay (to Lourdes Domínguez Lino).
The doubles final saw Catalina Castaño and Mariana Duque-Mariño come from 64 54 down to beat Eva Hrdinova and Mervana Jugic-Salkic, 46 75 105. Not only was it a first WTA doubles title for both, but Castaño took home her first WTA title of any kind (Duque-Mariño has one WTA singles title).