LUXEMBOURG - Germany’s Carina Witthoeft battled past Monica Puig in straight sets to win her first WTA title at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.
Serving powerfully throughout the match, Witthoeft needed just over an hour and a half to weather a late comeback bid and defeat Olympic champion Puig, 6-3, 7-5.
“Winning my first WTA title feels unbelievable,” Witthoeft said afterwards. “I’m so happy now, it’s been a tough week, a tough final today. I’m just happy.
“To play the last tournament of the season and finish the season winning your first title is just perfect.”
Witthoft stayed solid and aggressive to weather Puig’s peaks and valleys. The Puerto Rican’s powerful, flat groundstrokes were firing on all cylinders at the start, and the pair were neck and neck until Puig earned the first break at 3-2.
She was a point away from consolidating the lead, but - in a move that would set the tone for the rest of the match - Witthoeft roared back to bat away Puig’s opportunity. The German raised her level to reel off four games in a row, relying on her devastating first serves to keep Puig out of the contest and close out the first set.
Witthoeft enjoyed a slew of errors from the Puerto Rican to quickly get ahead to a double break, 4-1 lead in the second. But with her back to the wall, Puig found her game again and reeled off three games in a row, piling the pressure on Witthoeft and bringing up four break point chances to level the set. She was unable to convert on any, however, as her unforced errors undid her efforts.
Serving for her first WTA title, Witthoeft showed signs of nerves - double faulting and being broken as Puig looked to extend her stay in the final. The Puerto Rican was two points away from forcing a tiebreaker as Witthoeft served for the match for a second time, but the German finally closed out the match to claim the victory.
“I was telling myself to stay aggressive,” she explained. “It was so close in the second set and I was really struggling with my serve. But I just told myself to focus and be aggressive and I was happy to win it in two sets.”
The victory caps off a stellar week for the 22-year-old German, who’d previously never been past the first round in Luxembourg. She started the tournament with a victory over the No.8 seed Varvara Lepchenko, and made her way to the final after moving past an ailing Kiki Bertens, the No.2 seed, in the semifinals.
Witthoeft had previously fallen in the semifinals of Budapest and reached three quarterfinals this year, but now she’ll end her season with her first WTA title.
After the match, Puig had nothing but praise for her younger opponent opponent.
“Carina, great job on an amazing final and amazing tournament, you played some great tennis,” she said in the trophy ceremony. “I know it’s the first time we’ve played each other but I hope we can play in many more great finals in the future.”
“And to the people of Puerto Rico, this tournament is for you,” Puig added amid tears.