TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - The resurgent Margarita Gasparyan capped off her comeback week at the Tashkent Open in perfect style, outplaying qualifier Anastasia Potapova 6-1, 6-2 in an all-Russian contest to claim her second career WTA title.
Gasparyan, ranked World No.299, also became the second-lowest ranked WTA champion after Angelique Widjaja, who was World No.579 when she won Bali in 2001. Having begun the year unranked, the 24-year-old Russian is guaranteed to return to the Top 200 for the first time since January 2017 next week.
“When I entered this event I wanted to just play a tournament, I didn’t think I will win the title,” an elated Gasparyan told the Tashkent Open media team. “My Goal was to play a lot of matches, I didn’t expect I would go far here.
“For me this a special win as I will now have more chances to play on the bigger events Australia, bigger matches. I’m close but far, if I play good for the next few weeks.”
Gasparyan needed just over a hour to stop the 17-year-old Potapova - her good friend and doubles partner - in a one-sided final, the shortest in the Tashkent Open’s 20-year history. She started spiritedly breaking Potapova in the very first game, then backed it up in the third to build up a 4-0 lead. Potapova got on the scoreboard at 4-1, but she wasn’t able to stem Gasparyan’s momentum as the 24-year-old took the opening set.
A similar story unfolded in the second as Gasparyan broke twice to get another 4-0 lead. Potapova, who came through the qualifying rounds to reach her second WTA final, looked sluggish after a hard week of tennis. Despite being able to get on the scoreboard and avoid the shutout, a Potapova double fault on match point handed the 299-ranked Russian the title.
"I feel like I’m stronger now than before, I have worked very hard on my fitness,” Gasparyan said. She came into Tashkent with a Protected Ranking after three knee surgeries kept her out of action for nearly a year and a half. "I didn't expect to win easily. It's not easy to play against a friend but I was prepared.”
Despite the defeat, 17-year-old Potapova took away only positives from her week in Tashkent - it was her second WTA final of the year after the Moscow River Cup.
“It’s been a amazing week for me,” she said. “Most importantly I got to play many matches and I feel more confident. I have had a busy week playing singles and doubles, and really feel tired.”
In addition to their trophies, all of the finalists were also presented with a specially crafted traditional Uzbek chapan, which they showed off during the trophy ceremony at the Tashkent Olympic Tennis School.
Meanwhile, in doubles, unseeded pair of Tamara Zidansek and Olga Danilovic continued their fabulous run in the event as they upset top seeds Irina Camelia Begu and Raluca Olaru of Romania, 7-5,6-3 to lift the trophy.
“We decided to play the doubles together just two weeks before,” Danilovic said. “It was very nice to play for the first time and then win the event!”