The past two weeks have been the best of Maryna Zanevska’s WTA career, and she now has her first singles title to show for it.
In a battle between first-time WTA singles finalists, Zanevska of Belgium defeated Kristina Kucova of Slovakia, 6-4, 7-6(4), to claim the singles title at the BNP Paribas Poland Open on Sunday.
"Today, I was living my dream," Zanevska said during the trophy presentation. "It’s such an amazing moment for me. There are so many things right now in my head, and it’s tough to actually put all the thoughts together."
World No.165 Zanevska was down by tremendous deficits in both sets, falling behind a double-break each time. The Belgian, though, gritted out comebacks in both challenging frames to earn the straight-set win over 150th-ranked Kucova after an hour and 51 minutes of play.
"Today I started my match not the greatest, 0-3, didn’t feel amazing, quite stressful," Zanevska said. "But then I heard sometimes [from the crowd], ‘Maryna, hey, let’s go!’ It gave me such an inspiration to actually give a boost and do it better."
Last week, Zanevska reached her first career WTA quarterfinal and semifinal in Lausanne, before falling to eventual champion Tamara Zidansek. That run was the first time in Zanevska’s career she won back-to-back Tour-level matches.
The semifinal showing in Lausanne earned Zanevska a special-exempt entry into the Gdynia main draw, and she took the opportunity with both hands, charging into her first final before beating Kucova for her maiden WTA title.
Against Kucova, Zanevska was excellent returning second serves, winning two-thirds of those points en route to collecting 20 break points. Kucova boldly saved 14 of those chances, but it was not enough to stem the tide of Zanevska.
27-year-old Zanevska is now 8-1 in her last nine matches. She is projected to re-enter the Top 120 after her week in Gdynia, as she approaches matching her career-high ranking of World No.105.
Kucova got off to a stellar start in the match, as her double-handed shots from both sides earned her two breaks of serve and a 3-0 lead in the opening set. But Zanevska stormed back with aplomb, winning six of the next seven games to steal the first set from the Slovak.
In the second set, Kucova again broke Zanevska twice in succession and led 3-0, but Zanevska used a mix of impeccable groundstroke depth and deft dropshots to reel off five games in a row and serve for the championship at 5-3.
Kucova did not yield, breaking Zanevska with ease to pull back on serve at 5-4. More fantastic returns by Zanevska finally gave her four match points on the Kucova serve at 6-5, but Kucova found powerful shots at the end of increasingly tense rallies to get out of trouble and set up a second-set tiebreak.
Kucova had already pulled off a dramatic comeback in the Gdynia quarterfinals: the 31-year-old saved four match points in that round, winning the longest match of the year. She would not repeat that feat, though, as three miscues long from 3-3 in the breaker handed Zanevska three more match points. Zanevska at last converted her sixth championship point to clinch victory.
Earlier on Sunday, the doubles title went to the No.3 seeds Anna Danilina of Kazakhstan and Lidziya Marozava of Belarus. The pair defeated No.4 seeds Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine and Katarzyna Piter of Poland, 6-3, 6-2, in the final.
Danilina and Marozava romped to victory in 63 minutes, converting seven of their 11 break points in the match. The win completed a triumphant week for the victors, who were pushed to a match-tiebreak in their opening round, but won their last two tilts in straight sets.
It is the second WTA doubles title for 28-year-old Marozava, who claimed the Luxembourg crown in 2017 alongside Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove. For 25-year-old Danilina, Gdynia marks her first title, in her first WTA final.