HUA HIN, Thailand -- No.8 seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine came back from the brink to win her second career WTA singles title on Sunday, erasing a 2-5 final-set deficit to outlast No.6 seed Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(3) and clutch the trophy at the inaugural Toyota Thailand Open presented by E@.
After a quick first-set win, the 18-year-old Ukrainian seemed down and out for the majority of the next two sets, but she broke 25-year-old Tomljanovic twice when the Australian served for the the title down the stretch. The teenager then came through in a decisive tiebreak to seal victory after a topsy-turvy two hours and 22 minutes.
"The match was really tough for me," Yastremska told the press. "The first set I played maximum, and the second set, I felt that I can’t play like that, like how I played the first set, and I didn’t know what’s going on. I tried my best, and I tried to do the same things I was doing in the first set, but it’s just feelings like you’re empty, completely empty. I don’t know how to describe that."
"But in the third set, when I was losing 5-2, I remembered one thing, which happened before this tournament, and it really helped me to go through and take extra power, and finish with a win," Yastremska continued. The youngster was referring to an accident her mother had with an exploding champagne bottle at the Australian Open, which left her eye injured.
"She did the operation in Australia and she [flew] back to Ukraine, and it was really tough for me to play because I didn’t sleep well for nights, because she had a long operation," Yastremska admitted. "But now she’s good, and that extra motivated me to win."
Yastremska had 53 unforced errors, more than her 33 winners, but Tomljanovic only fired seven winners in the match, and was undone at the very end by 32 unforced errors. The players had seven breaks of service each, and ended the evenly-matched clash with the exact same number of points won by both, 97.
World No.47 Yastremska thus adds to her quickly-rising tally of titles, having claimed the championship at Hong Kong just four months ago, and she will make her Top 40 debut in the WTA rankings on Monday. Tomljanovic came ever so close to winning her first WTA singles title, but now has fallen to 0-4 in WTA singles finals.
"I don’t think right now about ranking, I think right now about how to perfect myself and improve myself, and take the experience," said Yastremska. "If I play good, if I show a good level, I’ll get the points and I’ll get higher in the ranking. The ranking’s not the priority. But of course I’m happy to get into Top 40."
After prevailing in two tough opening service games, Yastremska amassed a large lead to open the encounter. At 3-0, a backhand return winner gave the Ukrainian teenager a love service break, and she quickly held for 5-0 to extend her dominance on the scoreboard.
Two double faults in Yastremska’s next service game allowed Tomljanovic to pull back to 5-2, but solid returning gave the Ukrainian another break to close out the opening frame. Yastremska had 12 winners in the first set, to just two for Tomljanovic.
However, the shift in momentum that started in the opening set fully took hold in the following set. After evading a break point in the first game, Yastremska dropped serve at 1-1, double faulting on break point. The double faults became a persistent issue in the set for the teenager, and she fired another to lose serve at 2-2.
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Tomljanovic, meanwhile, picked up her serving prowess and minimized her unforced errors -- five miscues in the second set, as opposed to 14 in the first -- and the Australian cruised through five straight games to level the match at one set apiece.
Yastremska seemed to have recovered her form at the outset of the decider, breaking Tomljanovic for a 2-0 lead. But the Australian pushed her defense to outstanding levels, frustrating the teenager into errors and more double faults, and Tomljanovic suddenly went on a five-game run. At 5-2, Tomljanovic was a game away from a WTA title breakthrough.
The Ukrainian, though, had other plans. Yastremska blasted a forehand return winner down the line to break her opponent when she served for the match a first time. At 5-4, more incredible returns by Yastremska caused Tomljanovic to drop serve again, and the Australian found herself at 5-5 after double faulting down break point.
Tomljanovic was able to hold once again and force a decisive tiebreak, but after the Australian double faulted at 3-3, Yastremska took control. The Ukrainian teenager ended up winning the final five points, closing out the encounter with a backhand crosscourt winner to seal her second title after an unpredictable championship match.