No.2 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain pulled off a valiant comeback to win her second title of the season, coming back from a set and a break down to defeat No.6 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, and triumphing at the Chicago Fall Tennis Classic.
In a match which held crucial importance for WTA Finals qualification scenarios, 9th-ranked Muguruza fought past World No.16 Jabeur in an hour and 37 minutes. This event marks the ninth career WTA singles title for former World No.1 Muguruza.
The match followed the pattern of their two previous encounters, where the loser of the first set came from behind to win the match. In those meetings, Muguruza used a third-set tiebreak to defeat Jabeur in the second round of Hobart in 2020, but Jabeur got her revenge in the third round of Wimbledon earlier this year.
Words from the winner: "That was a battle, especially those first sets," Muguruza told the press, after her win. "We’ve played recently, this year at Wimbledon, and it was a very tough match, and I knew that she’s having one of the best seasons that a player can have. I was prepared, I went out there with all the fighting spirit in the pocket.
"She was playing amazing in the first set, and my level was not at what it should be to play against her. I slowly found a space in the second set to break and to get that one, and force a decider. That gave me the extra confidence I needed, and also the energy to go and get the trophy."
Guadalajara goals: With the victory, Muguruza drastically improves her position in the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals in Guadalajara, moving up two spots to No.6 in her quest to reach the year-ending championship. Only the eight players who amass the most WTA ranking points during 2021 will qualify.
Meanwhile, Jabeur is still contending for a spot at the WTA Finals as well. She currently sits at No.9 in the Porsche Race during her breakthrough season, where she became the first Arab woman to win a WTA singles title in Birmingham.
Key moments: Jabeur used her arsenal of crafty shots right away, but the Tunisian still played with power as well: a tremendous crosscourt forehand set up a backhand winner to help her break at love for 3-1. That was the only break Jabeur needed in the opener, in which she did not face a break point. Jabeur closed out the set with a divine dropshot that tailed away from a chasing Muguruza.
However, Muguruza started to steer into contention after dropping serve in the first game of the second set, earning her first break of the day immediately thereafter. Jabeur used an amazing passing shot to help her move ahead by a break once more at 3-2, but Muguruza’s big hitting in the next game kicked off her comeback for good, breaking back for 3-3.
That started a run of ten straight games for Muguruza, although she struggled serving for the second set at 5-3, where she squandered her first four set points and stared down two break points. But the Spaniard pulled it off in the end, earning her fifth set point with a backhand winner, then leveling the match after a netted return by Jabeur.
A very brief rain delay occurred between the second and third sets. But after a break at love once the final set started, it was no contest from there, as Muguruza cruised through the bagel and collected the crown, adding to her Dubai title from earlier this year.
Peschke/Petkovic clinch doubles title
Due to the threat of more rain, the doubles final was moved indoors. But a change of scenery would not stop the run of Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic and Andrea Petkovic of Germany, as they claimed the title, 6-3, 6-1, over the American wildcards Caroline Dolehide and CoCo Vandeweghe.
Peschke and Petkovic were outstanding on return, going 7-for-7 on break point conversions to notch the title after just over an hour of play. After being forced into 10-8 match-tiebreaks in their second-round and quarterfinal matches, the pair won their last two tilts in straight sets.
It's another notch in the legendary doubles career of 46-year-old Peschke. The former WTA Doubles World No.1 is now up to 36 WTA doubles titles overall, and her first of 2021.
The title is a completely different milestone for former Top 10 singles player Petkovic: Chicago is the first WTA doubles title of her career, following two runner-up showings.