MALLORCA, Spain - Last year’s champion Anastasija Sevastova is back into the Mallorca Open final for the third year in a row after a hard-fought win over Sam Stosur.

The No.3 seed Sevastova and former Grand Slam champion Stosur were neck and neck for much of the opening set, but Sevastova pulled away in the tiebreak to win 7-6(1), 6-1 in an hour and 16 minutes.

“I never expected to make the final here three times in a row,” Sevastova admitted in her post-match interview. “It was a tough draw here with a lot of good players.

“I don’t feel pressure. I think I had more pressure in the first round than now, as the defending champion. Now I’m back in the final and I’m going to just try to enjoy it.

“Every year it’s different - you have points to defend, but you don’t have to think like that. You have to think that every year you start with zero points. That’s what matters.”

Sevastova and Stosur traded breaks twice in the tight opening set, with Sevastova needing a tiebreak to edge through. But she accelerated in the second, notching a double break to reel off six of seven games and close out the match.

The defending champion fired 14 winners and nine unforced errors, and her strong serving kept her on the front foot in the rallies, serving at 74% first serves with four aces. Stosur employed her heavy, aggressive game to much success, but her efforts were undone by her mounting unforced error count. She finished the match with 14 winners and 28 unforced errors, 20 of which came in the first set alone.

Standing between Sevastova and her second consecutive Mallorca Open trophy is Tatjana Maria, who knocked out qualifier Sofia Kenin 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 earlier in the day.

“I really don’t know what it is about Mallorca,” Sevastova said. “I like this court, I like the conditions here because it’s hot and the ball jumps good for me. I enjoy playing here.”