ISTANBUL, Turkey - It hasn't been the best season for Roberta Vinci, and it could all have started with a loss to Ana Konjuh in Auckland - but now playing her very best tennis again, the Italian got some good old fashioned revenge on the WTA Rising Star at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup.
After putting together the best season of her career in 2013 - she had her highest year-end finish, No.14, and also set her career-high earlier in the year, No.11 - Vinci had an underwhelming first half of 2014, coming out of Wimbledon ranked outside the Top 20 again and with a 7-17 win-loss record.
And Konjuh may have had something to do with that. In Vinci's first match of the year, and in the first WTA-level match of Konjuh's career, just days after her 16th birthday, Konjuh beat Vinci in the first round of the ASB Classic. And 2014 hadn't technically started yet - it was December 31, 2013.
But Vinci came into the rematch a totally different player - she was 7-1 since Wimbledon, after all.
The Turning Point
In this case, it could have been the warm-up. The No.2-seeded Vinci came out completely in control, winning the first four games of the match and, after letting Konjuh back into it with three straight games to catch up to 4-3, she stayed one step ahead of the Croatian qualifier for the next 20 or 30 minutes as the two traded holds back and forth until Vinci found herself stepping up to serve at 6-4, 1-2.
That's when the Italian pounced again - five straight games and she had the win, 6-4, 6-2.
"I am very pleased with my win today," Vinci said after the match. "For sure experience helped, but I played smart and adapted to the conditions really well, because it was really windy out there.
"I enjoyed myself out there and I'm really pleased to be in the final here in Istanbul."
"I did not have a very good start, and she was playing amazing," Konjuh said. "But I'm very pleased with my week in Istanbul. I'll take a few days off then get ready for the US Open Series events."
By The Numbers
Vinci's stronghold was her serve - she held eight of her nine service games, and finished the match with six straight holds. Winning 82% of her first serve points didn't hurt one bit, and with some solid returning she also mustered up four breaks of serve, converting on four of six break points.
It was also a very strong finish - Vinci won 20 of the last 25 points of the 66-minute encounter.
Vinci is now through to the 12th WTA final of her career, going 9-2 in the first 11.
Great tournament, great experience for me :) Thank you guys for the support ! Hope to see you all next year ?