SAN JOSE, CA, USA - No.5 seed Mihaela Buzarnescu cruised to her first WTA title at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic - and with it, her Top 20 debut.
The Romanian rolled past first-time finalist Maria Sakkari of Greece in the final of the Premier-level event, 6-1, 6-0, to become the sixth player to win her first title so far this season.
Buzarnescu captured her first-ever WTA title in her third final of the season, having first finished runner-up to Elise Mertens in Hobart and to Petra Kvitova in Prague - both of which came in three sets.
"I was able to take all the emotions away and keep focused, and try to take it as a normal match, not as a final," Buzarnescu said after her victory.
"Even after the first set, I thought she could come back, so it was really not easy. After leading 3-0, I thought I could really win the match."
— WTA (@WTA) August 5, 2018
Exactly 12 months ago, the 30-year-old was ranked World No.142, but she will sit squarely at a new career-best of World No.20 on Monday.
In a match between two players seeking to hoist their first singles trophy on tour, it was the Romanian who sprinted out of the gates and never looked back.
"It was not easy. I woke up and I was still tired from yesterday...but she was very good today. I wasn't moving great, and it's one of my weapons, so it wasn't easy after two long matches and very intense days," Sakkari said in defeat.
"I gained confidence and experience and it was a great week for me. I think I will be more prepared for my next final. I think she was extremely solid from the beginning of the match. She was serving clever...and she could do anything she wanted.
"She took the opportunity...and I felt like I didn't have any solutions."
— WTA (@WTA) August 5, 2018
Buzarnescu won the first five games of the match in under 20 minutes before Sakkari put a game on the board, but that proved to be the lone game that the Romanian No.2 surrendered in the match.
Sakkari was unable to overcome 34 unforced errors over the course of the match, as the World No.24 broke five times, saved all four break points she faced, and never faced a break point in the second set.
"I was trying to focus on my game and not focusing on how she would react," Buzarnescu said. "I saw that I was playing really good, making winners and getting every ball back."
In a match where she lost just 19 points in seven service games, she fittingly wrapped up the 73-minute victory with her second ace of the afternoon - a swinging serve down the tee to seal herself a WTA title.
"Now, I think I believe in everything. I started to believe that I could play good when I qualified for the US Open last year," she said. "Everything's [been] better and better for me. I'll just try to focus for each tournament and each game as I did before.
"Maybe people will look differently at me now, but I don't want to change anything...just think of the good moments, and play."