ISTANBUL, Turkey - Petra Martic came full circle in a career full of comebacks on Sunday, fighting from a set down to defeat Marketa Vondrousova, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 to win her first career title at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup.
"It was really an incredible week," she said in a phone interview after the match. "I can’t believe I managed to turn this match around today. I really felt hopeless at one point, especially after the first set. She played so well, dominating, and I wasn’t sure if I could come back. I’m so happy."
Ranked as low as World No.662 just over two years ago thanks to a back injury, Martic has worked her way to a career high of World No.31 on the WTA rankings in January, and scored her biggest milestone yet after a one hour and 49 minute battle on Center Court.
"It’s huge. I have no words, still. I’m full of emotions and I can’t believe I even managed to turn this match around. Winning my first title is incredible, and it’s the best day of my career. I hope it’s going to give me more confidence in the rest of the season, and maybe win another!"
Across the net was Vondrousova, who has been on fire since before the start of the Sunshine Swing, reaching the Hungarian Ladies Open final in Budapest and back-to-back quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open - knocking out former World No.1 Simona Halep at the former.
The Czech teenager got out to a quick start in the final, winning the first five games before Martic was able to get on the board, though she did so with some impressive drop shots.
— WTA (@WTA) April 28, 2019
"At the end of the first set, I was trying to find more of a rhythm so I could fight from the second set on. In the first set, I made too many unforced errors and she basically made none. She was so steady, and it was a one way street! But from the second set, I broke her in first game and I started believing a bit more."
Though Vondrousova escaped with the first set, Martic made the most of her late momentum to begin the second set with a break of serve. Vondrousova scaled back the deficit to within one point of 5-5 in a crucial tenth game, holding a 0-40 lead as Martic served to level the match.
"I started playing longer rallies and I wasn’t afraid to stay there with her, and I think that’s what made the difference."
The Croat saved all three to force a deciding set and never looked back, securing victory behind a flurry of service breaks.
In all, she struck 17 winners to 33 unforced errors (nearly half of which came in the first set) and converted six of 11 break point opportunities. While Vondrousova managed 26 winners of her own, she was ultimately undone by 37 unforced errors - 29 of which came in the final two sets.
After today's win, Martic is tentatively set to rise closer to the World's Top 32. The jump will likely put her in contention for a seed at the upcoming French Open, where she pushed Elina Svitolina to three sets in the fourth round back in 2017.