HUA HIN, Thailand – No.5 seed Magda Linette sealed her second WTA Tour title as she overcame qualifier Leonie Kung, 6-3, 6-2 to lift the GSB Thailand Open presented by E@.
Having won her only previous title in the Bronx after coming through qualification, Linette would have been well aware not to take her opponent lightly and she turned in a thoroughly polished performance against the Swiss, who was taking part in just her second main draw event at this level.
Linette, who was a semifinalist in Thailand last year, pinpointed her rival’s second serve as an area of weakness and constantly punished it, winning 74% of points in that situation to seal a break in the first set and two in the second to record a comfortable victory in one hour and 17 minutes.
“I’m feeling wonderful, really coming here I didn’t expect this at all," Linette said after the match. "I was even wondering how it’s going to be because I was coming from Fed Cup, [which was played] indoors and I didn’t have much time to adjust. I really wasn’t expecting it.
"I’m so happy that I managed to start really well and continue throughout the matches to keep my level as high as it was at the beginning. The experience of being in a final before and knowing how to handle my nerves and knowing how to behave really did help.”
Although the first five games of the match went with serve, it was evident that Kung, who admitted following her semifinal win over No.8 seed Nao Hibino that she had surprised herself with her progress, was battling to hold onto the coattails of the World No.42. Linette was using nice variety, bringing the teenager into the net with some neat dropshots while changing the pace on the ball.
The pressure she was exerting ultimately told against an opponent who would have been the fourth-lowest-ranked player to win a WTA Tour event had she come out on top.
Kung was showing the tenacity that had seen her record three Top 100 wins earlier in the week, but she was ultimately broken when a double fault then an unforced error from deuce handed Linette a 3-2 lead.
Linette, meanwhile, was having no problems holding serve, winning four of her five games in the opening set for the loss of just a single point. In the other, Kung only got as far as 30.
The Pole held out comfortably to seal the opener then raced into the ascendancy in the second, breaking to love as Kung had a brief mental lapse.
A deft dropshot winner carried her two games clear before the 19-year-old got going. After getting on the board, she forced her only break point of the evening with some battling play, yet Linette untangled herself to save the game with a passing shot after luring her rival to net with a drop.
There would be no further breaks, although Kung did give Linette a scare as she moved 15-30 up as the latter was serving for the match. A fine drop once again got the seed out of trouble and helped steer her to a second WTA Tour title in four finals, which was sealed with an unreturned serve.
“Of course when you lose, you’re a little bit disappointed but I can’t complain about anything this week," Kung said in defeat. "I played the best tournament of my life and I learned so much the whole week. I played against so many great players and Magda just played a lot better than me today and she deserved to win. I’m just happy I had the chance to play the finals.
“Now I’m getting to about No.150 in the rankings I can play Grand Slam qualifying, so I’m really excited for that, also to play Wimbledon qualifying, where I played the junior finals. I’m really excited for the next months, and I hope I can still get some good WTA points to get my rankings up.”
The doubles title, meanwhile, was claimed by Arina Rodionova and Storm Sanders, the No.4 seeds, wasted little time in winning the final, 6-3, 6-3 over Barbara Haas and Ellen Perez.
The first four games all went with serve before the seeded duo made the breakthrough. Although Haas and Perez hit back, they were broken twice more as the set escaped them in 28 minutes.
The second proved to be tighter, with the pairs exchanging early breaks before the decisive move was made by the Australian combination in the sixth game. They sealed the match in exactly an hour.