No.2 seed Andrea Petkovic hoisted a WTA singles championship trophy for the first time in over six years, as the German defeated Mayar Sherif of Egypt, 6-1, 6-1, to triumph at the inaugural Winners Open in Cluj-Napoca.
"I feel so happy," Petkovic told the press, after her win. "It feels much longer than six years, because so many things happened in the six years. I was ready to retire, I almost did retire, I started five new jobs!
"Now being back to what I love most, tennis, and winning at it, is just the best feeling. I’m the happiest person in the world right now."
Former World No.9 Petkovic collected her seventh career WTA singles title with her 61-minute win over Sherif. This is the fifth of those titles to come on clay courts for Petkovic, whose career-best performance at a Grand Slam event came on the dirt at 2014 Roland Garros, where she reached the semifinals.
It has been a resurgent summer for Petkovic, who has made the final at two of her last three events -- her first finals since she claimed the title at Antwerp in February of 2015. Petkovic finished as runner-up in Hamburg last month, and she has won 12 of her last 14 matches overall.
It was a dominant display in the final by the experienced Petkovic over first-time finalist Sherif. 33-year-old Petkovic earned two-thirds of points returning the Sherif second serve, which led to five breaks of service out of ten break points. Petkovic was also stingy on serve, never facing a break point in the match.
Acknowledging what @MayarSherif_1 has achieved this week! ☺️👊@andreapetkovic | #WinnersOpen pic.twitter.com/nGMSuZpiDW— wta (@WTA) August 8, 2021
Despite the loss, it has still been a historic week for 25-year-old Sherif, who blazed through four straight-set matches to become the first Egyptian woman to reach a WTA singles final.
"I’ll keep my head up, to learn from these losses and keep going forward," Sherif said on court, while accepting her finalist trophy. "I’ll take it in a positive way."
"Every match I played with all my heart, all my effort, all the mental effort that I could," Sherif added in post-match press. "Happy from where I arrived with this tournament, and hopefully I’ll make everybody proud back home."
A 𝒽𝒾𝓈𝓉𝑜𝓇𝒾𝒸 run for @MayarSherif_1 👏👏#WinnersOpen pic.twitter.com/P93XgUs7JW— wta (@WTA) August 8, 2021
Petkovic found her targets with sturdy groundstrokes as she zipped to a 5-0 lead in the opening set. Sherif at last averted the bagel with a hold for 5-1, but it would not stop Petkovic’s momentum, as the German slammed an error-forcing forehand to convert her first set point.
Sherif did well to save two break points in the opening game of the second set, but that would prove to be her last stand, as powerful returning by Petkovic ruled the day. The No.2 seed reeled off six games in a row from there to wrap up the victory, ending the clash with one final forehand return winner.
Next up for Petkovic: "I’m going to the States to do hardcourt. Funnily enough, I feel most comfortable on hardcourt, and I hope I can take this good form and this confidence that I gained here in Cluj with me over the ocean, into the U.S."