No.8 seed Zhang Shuai of China staged a comeback victory to clinch her third career title at the Open 6e Sens Métropole de Lyon on Sunday, overcoming wildcard Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Zhang fought back from a break down two times in the final set before outlasting Yastremska in 1 hour and 46 minutes. Zhang collects her first singles title in over four years and her first title outside of Guangzhou, where she triumphed in 2013 and 2017.
"An incredible week, very high-quality match in the final," Zhang said after her win. "I saw [Yastremska] grow up over the last three or four years, she’s already won many tournaments. She plays so well, very powerful, so I was really focused on myself today. I’m really proud of winning."
Back in the winner's circle: Making her first appearance in Lyon, Zhang swept into the final without losing a set in her four matches. It gave 64th-ranked Zhang a chance to upend her recent performances in finals; she had lost her last two since her 2017 Guangzhou crown.
Zhang was finally pushed to three sets this week, but the 33-year-old was able to get the job done in the end, improving to 2-1 against Yastremska over their rivalry.
Former World No.23 Zhang also became the first Chinese singles titlist on tour since Zheng Saisai won the San Jose title in 2019.
Remarkable run by Yastremska: Despite the loss, it was still a sterling performance by the 21-year-old Yastremska, who was forced to shelter with her family in an underground garage in her war-torn home country for two nights just a week ago.
Yastremska and her 15-year-old sister, Ivanna, were eventually able to make it out of Ukraine and get to Lyon. Yastremska received a wildcard into the singles draw (she and her sister got one for the doubles draw as well), and the former World No.21 boldly made her first final in over two years.
Currently ranked World No.140, three-time singles titlist Yastremska had to fend off two match points in her first-round victory over Ana Bogdan before making it into her fifth career singles final. Yastremska sent words of support to her compatriots after the match:
Key moments: Both aggressive players took advantage of the indoor conditions to set up numerous hard-hitting rallies. It was Yastremska who took charge in the first set, slamming a backhand winner to hold for 3-2, then using fierce forehands to force errors from Zhang in the following game and grab the only break of the opener. Yastremska had 13 winners to just three unforced errors in the first set.
Yastremska broke serve to kick off the second set as well, but Zhang suddenly wrested the momentum away, reeling off four games in a row to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Zhang continued to press with her potent hitting, while Yastremska’s unforced error count rose to 10 in the second set. Zhang finished the set with a pristine love hold to level the match.
In the third set, Yastremska fired more aggressive strokes to lead Zhang by a break at 2-0 and 4-2, but Zhang immediately struck back each time. Zhang then took her first lead of the set by slamming a rally forehand winner to break for 5-4. The Chinese player would not be derailed from there, as she collected her fourth game in a row to wrap up the victory.
Siegemund, Zvonareva win doubles title: A proven championship duo triumphed in the Open 6e Sens Métropole de Lyon doubles final, as Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva took the title with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls.
Siegemund and Zvonareva paired up to win the 2020 US Open doubles title in their first event as a team. They collected their second team title this week, in their first event together of the season.
It is the seventh doubles title for the 34-year-old Siegemund, and the 11th for 37-year-old Zvonareva. It is the first doubles title for each of them since their triumph at the 2020 US Open.
The two Brits Barnett and Nicholls each made their tour debuts this week, and achieved success at tour level already with a trip to the final, despite their 71-minute loss to the former US Open champions.