No.3 seed Mayar Sherif captured her second WTA 125 title at the AnyTech365 Andalucía Open, winning the final 7-6(1), 6-4 over Tamara Korpatsch in 2 hours and 8 minutes.
Sherif became the first Egyptian player in history to reach a WTA final at the Winners Open, Cluj-Napoca last August, and was also the Karlsruhe 125 champion in September.
Prior to this week, Sherif had been struggling for form on hard courts, and the 25-year-old entered Marbella with a meagre 1-8 record in 2022. But back on her preferred clay, she swept through the draw without dropping a set. Sherif scored her first two Top 100 wins of the season over No.8 seed Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals, and over No.1 seed Danka Kovinic 7-5, 7-6(4) in the semifinals.
"I've been working hard since the beginning of the season," said Sherif afterwards. "It didn't show result-wise, but I knew I was improving, and it came out today and the whole week.
"I haven't been feeling very confident on the court the past few months, even though I was feeling very well training and feeling that I was improving. The results were not coming. I just feel very proud of myself that I didn't get so down with the bad results at the start of the season. If you keep putting the hard work in, the results will come."
A high-quality final was a battle of forehands and dropshots, with Sherif's weapons working more consistently in the bigger moments. The World No.73 finished a narrowly contested first set strongly: serving at 5-6, a fine dropshot sealed a five-deuce hold to force a tiebreak, which Sherif dominated with three clean forehand winners.
Sherif also kept her nose in front throughout the second set despite a valiant Korpatsch pegging her back from 3-1 to 3-3. The German also fought hard in the home stretch, slamming one forehand winner to break back as Sherif served for the title, and another two to save the first pair of championship points she faced.
However, the Sherif dropshot was again there when she needed it, and sealed her third championship point.
Sherif is glad to be back on clay, the predominant surface in Egypt. But she's not done with the hard-court challenge that will return later this season.
"Honestly, I've been doing well the last few months improvement-wise," she said. "I feel like I'm doing a good job and improving on hard courts. The results will come."
Korpatsch, 26, had been playing the biggest final of her career to date, and had been on a nine-match winning streak after taking last week's ITF W25 title in Le Havre. Despite the loss, this week represents a strong turnaround in form for the German. During 2021, she compiled a sparse 8-16 win-loss record; this season, she is already at 13-4.
No.149-ranked Korpatsch, who only entered the draw as an alternate following Lucia Bronzetti's withdrawal, upset No.4 seed Arantxa Rus 6-0, 6-7(5), 6-3 in the second round and No.6 seed Panna Udvardy 7-6(6), 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Kovinic, Dodin reach semifinals; Avanesyan upsets Ferro
Kovinic, who already owns two Top 20 wins this year over Emma Raducanu at the Australian Open and Karolina Pliskova in Indian Wells, continued her strong form to reach the last four. The Montenegrin survived former World No.66 Mandy Minella 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-5 in the first round and No.7 seed Martina Trevisan 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
No.97-ranked Océane Dodin made her biggest semifinal since Palermo last August with a run that included a remarkable turnaround to defeat No.2 seed Varvara Gracheva 0-6, 6-2, 6-2 in the second round. The Frenchwoman improved to 9-10 in 2022 as a result of her showing in Marbella.
Wildcard Elina Avanesyan scored the biggest win of her career by ranking 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 over Fiona Ferro in the first round. The 19-year-old recovered after missing two match points at 5-2 in the second set.
Avanesyan was ranked No.616 one year ago, but has rocketed to her current No.173 after winning the Versmold ITF W60 last August and reaching the final qualifying round of the Australian Open in January. The teenager was making her main-draw debut at WTA 125 level.
Bara, Gorgodze return to winning ways with doubles title
No.2 seeds Irina Bara and Ekaterine Gorgodze claimed their fifth title in the past seven months with a 6-4, 3-6, [10-6] defeat of Vivian Heisen and Katarzyna Kawa in the final. The Romanian-Georgian pair had compiled a 15-1 record in 2021 after collecting a WTA 250 trophy at the Transylvania Open, Cluj-Napoca, and WTA 125 titles in Karlsruhe, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
Bara and Gorgodze had lost their first four matches of 2022, but bounced back strongly in Marbella.