BOGOTA, Colombia -- Former Top 30 player Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia picked up the third WTA singles title of her career -- and her first since 2015 -- at the Claro Open Colsanitas on Sunday, defeating 2012 Bogotá champion and last year's runner-up, Spain's Lara Arruabarrena, 6-2, 6-4.
Schmiedlova led 6-2, 5-1 and held a match point before Arruabarrena charged back to make the second set competitive, but the Slovak was able to close out the match in straight sets after one hour and 20 minutes of play.
"A similar thing happened to me yesterday, but maybe it wasn’t so difficult as today," Schmiedlova told the press, after the match. "It was tough for me to finish it today, and I don’t know what happened. I just wanted to end it, and I maybe played a little less aggressive. But after all, I made it, and I’m very happy. I’m very happy that I didn’t complicate it more, and I didn’t go to a third set or something!"
The 23-year-old Slovak had been lingering outside of the Top 100 in the WTA rankings for the better part of the last two years, but returned to fine form during the water-logged week in Bogotá, and will find herself well inside the Top 100 once more when the new WTA rankings come out on Monday.
"I was much more nervous [in the] days before [the final]," said Schmiedlova. "Yesterday, for example, I played to get to Top 100 and to get to the main draw of Roland Garros, and also to get to final of WTA."
"I just wanted to show a good game, and that I can play good, and I think at least part of the match today was really good," Schmiedlova continued. The Slovak broke Arruabarrena eight times out of the Spaniard's nine service games during the match.
Read more: Scouting Report: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova
After an exchange of breaks in the first two games, Schmiedlova raced to triple game point at 1-1 via a backhand winner down the line. But Arruabarrena consistently wore the Slovak down in that game behind pinpoint forehands, eventually claiming a break advantage for the second time in the first three games.
However, the Spaniard quickly fell behind in her next service game, hitting three straight unforced errors to give Schmiedlova three chances to get back on serve again. Schmiedlova converted on her second opportunity of the game, leveling the match at 2-2.
That would start a run of five consecutive games for Schmiedlova. The Slovak’s accurate groundstrokes were persistently leading Arruabarrena into errors, and the Spaniard was unable to keep her play consistent when she would reach deuce or face break point during the latter stages of the set.
Despite having two more winners and only one more unforced error than Schmiedlova in the set, Arruabarrena struggled on her first serve, winning only 17 percent of those points. The Spaniard was unable to hold her serve once in the opening frame.
The second set started similarly, with an exchange of breaks, before Schmiedlova held for 2-1 and then quickly broke Arruabarrena for a 3-1 lead, after more miscues by the Spaniard. In the next game, Schmiedlova surged from deuce with a forehand passing shot to set up game point, followed by a volley to close out the game and take a 4-1 lead.
A stunning Schmiedlova crosscourt backhand on break point in the following game was too much for Arruabarrena to handle, and the Slovak broke for 5-1, giving her a chance to serve for the match. In that game, Schmiedlova reached match point with a forehand winner, but Arruabarrena’s forehand started hitting its spots again, and she reclaimed one break.
Arruabarrena then held her serve for the first time in the match, although it was not without drama, as she slid from 40-0 to deuce before closing to 5-3. But the Spaniard took great confidence from that hold, and subsequently broke Schmiedlova at love with a perfect volley, two searing forehand winners, and a cheeky drop shot. Suddenly, the set was back on serve.
But as quickly as the set turned, it rotated back the other way when Arruabarrena was serving while down 4-5. The Spaniard’s forehand started to misfire again, and Schmiedlova held her nerve while Arruabarrena blasted two straight forehand errors on the final two points, making the Slovak a WTA singles titlist for the first time in nearly three years.