QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - Mirjana Lucic-Baroni kept her 2014 revival ?going on Sunday afternoon, defeating Venus Williams in straight sets to win the Coupe Banque Nationale in Québec City - her first WTA title in 16 years and four months, a record for the biggest gap between winning WTA titles.
Coming in off a sensational run to the fourth round of the US Open, which included the best win of her career against the No.2-ranked player in the world, Simona Halep, Lucic-Baroni carried that momentum into Québec City this week, not dropping a set en route to her first WTA semifinal since Wimbledon in 1999, then going one step further by reaching her first WTA final since Bol, Croatia in 1998.
And with some big serving and ferocious hitting off the ground Lucic-Baroni took it to an even higher level against the No.1-seeded Williams, falling behind 3-1 early on but then storming back to win in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, throwing her arms in the air in celebration after winning match point.
"I'm so happy I can't really find the words right now to explain how happy I am," Lucic-Baroni said. "I played such a great match today against one of the best players in the world, such a champion.
"It's been so long. I'm finally playing the great tennis I always knew I could play, but it had been so long that I kind of lost a little bit of the belief in myself. But now after starting with my new coach Julian Alonso, winning matches and really getting that belief back, I'm just so ready to keep going."
The 16-year, four-month gap between Lucic-Baroni's last victory at Bol and this one is the longest gap between titles in WTA history, bettering Kimiko Date-Krumm's previous record of 13 years and one month, which she set between winning WTA titles at San Diego in 1996 and Seoul in 2009.
"It's not bad!" Lucic-Baroni said when told about her new record. "It was so long ago, I don't even remember what it's like to hold a trophy in my hands. It's just incredible. I'm still in a little bit of shock because I was so focused today, but oh my goodness, it's just an amazing feeling right now."
What's next for Lucic-Baroni? "I'm going to rest," she said. "When I get home we're going to celebrate at my husband's restaurant. And for sure he's going to make some really good for me.
"We'll open a good bottle of champagne. I'll find the most expensive one in his restaurant!"
Williams didn't come away empty-handed, reaching her milestone 75th WTA final (she's now 45-30 in those). She also has more match wins in Canada than in any other country this year with nine.
"My opponent played too well against me today," Williams said in her press conference. "She swung as hard as she could on every shot and hit so many lines. It's not typical that when you go for every shot they almost all go in. I think I played pretty well, but she just played better than me.
"She just had the magic today."
There was more magic later in the day for Lucic-Baroni. Alongside Lucie Hradecka she won the doubles title, beating Julia Goerges and Andrea Hlavackova in the final, 6-3, 7-6(8). It was her first WTA doubles title since Tokyo [Pan Pacific] in 1998 - 16 years and seven months ago.
We did it!!!C'mon!!thank you Mirjana for a great tournament!You are star in Quebec!Quebec is yours!! pic.twitter.com/xpmFgnz90V