At the age of 18, Clara Tauson is a two-time WTA champion. The unseeded Dane claimed her second title at 250 level at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, upsetting No.3 seed and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a pulsating two hours and three minutes.
World No.70 Tauson's title run also included defeats of No.4 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(1) in the second round and No.5 seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the semifinals. Fast indoor courts are proving to be a happy hunting ground for the Danish teenager, who first served notice of her breakthrough season in March when she won Lyon as a qualifier competing in just her second Tour-level main draw.
Tauson, whose season record is now 37-13 (14-8 in WTA main draws), also claimed the Chicago WTA 125 trophy in August, defeating Emma Raducanu in the final three weeks before the British teenager became the first qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam title at the US Open. She is one of four 2002-born players ranked in the Top 100 along with Raducanu, US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez and Marta Kostyuk, and will now edge closer to joining Raducanu and Fernandez in the Top 50.
Tauson is the seventh player this season to capture multiple trophies, joining five-time champion Ashleigh Barty, three-time winner Barbora Krejcikova and two-time titlists Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek, Danielle Collins and Daria Kasatkina.
Ostapenko had been unbeaten in Luxembourg prior to the final, having won on her tournament debut in 2019. The Latvian had been bidding to defend a title for the first time in her career, and to become the fourth player to successfully defend the Luxembourg crown following Jana Novotna (1991-92), Martina Navratilova (1993-94) and Kim Clijsters (2001-03).
Stat corner: With two of the biggest hitters in the draw going toe-to-toe in a first-time encounter, the winner tallies for both were naturally sky-high: 34 for Ostapenko and 31 for Tauson, including eight aces for the latter. But the unforced errors were where the pair deviated.
Ostapenko, aiming consistently for the lines, still only committed 23 to emerge with a positive ratio. But Tauson, who opted for more conservative placement than usual without sacrificing any of her bludgeoning power, limited her mistakes to an astonishingly paltry six, including zero in the deciding set.
Match management: The ebbs and flows of a nail-biting contest were mostly decided by the rollercoaster that was Ostapenko's form. The 24-year-old essayed a second-set turnaround with some exhilarating shotmaking on crucial points, nailing a smash to break Tauson for 4-3. She carried this over into the final set, firing consecutive return winners to take a 2-1 lead with the break.
But Tauson maintained an impressively consistent level throughout the match, unfazed even by Ostapenko's most electric ballstriking. She responded immediately in the third set with two straight return winners of her own to break back, then saved two break points en route to a marathon five-deuce hold for 3-2.
On those break opportunities, Ostapenko had rather snatched at her groundstrokes, netting putative winners on each. And for all her peaking on some big points, it was ultimately a pair of service games in which she was unable to control her errors that put paid to the World No.30's hopes.
The first set was decided by a game in which Ostapenko found the net three times to drop serve for 1-2; and, serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the third, she coughed up a fourth double fault and slew of errant backhands to seal the title for Tauson.