WASHINGTON, DC, USA - For the third straight match, Ekaterina Makarova came from a set down at the Citi Open, and at the close of the third, she walks away with her third career title.
The No.7 seeded Russian rallied for a 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-0 win over No.4 seed Julia Goerges in Sunday's championship, after the German served for the title in the second set.
"Every time when I was coming back, I was really enjoying, and dreaming to win this tournament, and here it is. I'm so happy about that," Makarova said. "I don't have a coach this week with me, but I have some great supporters. The crowd was just amazing and I heard a lot of Russians today...all tournament, I just really enjoyed this week. It was amazing."
Makarova had reached the semifinals three times at the Citi Open in her career, but went the distance this year to claim her first WTA trophy since she won the Pattaya Open in Thailand in February of 2014.
Down a set, Makarova built a 5-2 lead in the second set, only to see the German mount a furious comeback and win four straight games to put her in prime position to win her first title of the season, and first since 2011.
However, with Goerges serving for the match, Makarova broke serve to stay alive and dominated the ensuing tiebreak to head to a decider after losing the opening set for the third match in a row, and rolled through the final set to capture victory in two hours and 10 minutes.
"I don't know how I won this tournament," Makarova added after the match. "I was starting every time so slowly, and not aggressive, but in the last moment, I was like, I need to be more aggressive, let's try to do it!' I think in this tournament, I was very good in my head...I didn't give up.
"I was really believing that I could still be on the court, playing point by point and not thinking about the score. The third match, I turned around. I love this tournament and I'm so happy I have this in my collection."
In addition to her showing in the final, the Russian rallied from a set down in her quarterfinal match against Simona Halep before the top seed retired with heat illness in the third set, and repeated the feat against No.5 seed Oceane Dodin in their completed semifinal match.
"At this tournament, every match, I was still believing that I could turn it around. I was just playing point by point," Makarova said. "Sometimes, when you don't think about the score...it [starts] going your way. It's better just to focus on every point. I still want to play a bit more aggressive...the third set today, I returned very good and my serve, I was hitting and pushing the ball very good."
Currently ranked No.58 in singles, Makarova will rise to No.42 when the new rankings are released on Monday.
Though she is a doubles stalwart with partner Elena Vesnina, having just won a third Grand Slam at Wimbledon and sits within touching distance of the No.1 ranking, the 29-year-old believes that she can use the Citi Open title to bring her back to the singles heights that took her inside the world's top 10.
"I lost a lot of my points and my ranking is not very good, but I'm still working hard and I was believing that I could also play very good in singles again, not just in doubles," Makarova said. "I'm so happy that I could turn around something inside me [to win the title]."