Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil won the biggest singles title of her career at the L' Open 35 de Saint-Malo on Sunday, capturing the WTA 125 crown with a final victory over Anna Blinkova 7-6(3), 6-3.
No.4 seed Haddad Maia was successful in her first WTA 125 final, defeating unseeded Blinkova in just over two hours on the red clay in France.
"I’m very happy, for sure," the No.65 Haddad Maia said afterward. "It’s very special to be back here in Saint-Malo. I was here a few years ago, and I was very proud to come back.
"Most of [this week's] matches I had to fight more, to be humble, to work very hard and have discipline. So I’m very happy with myself because of that."
Despite some closely contested matches, 25-year-old Haddad Maia dropped only one set all week as she moved to the trophy.
After another strong performance within the last 12 months, Haddad Maia is getting closer to a Top 50 debut in the near future. Her career-high ranking is currently No.58, obtained in September 2017 after she reached her lone Hologic WTA Tour singles final in Seoul.
"It’s important," said Haddad Maia. "I’m a very hard worker, so I think I deserve to be there, and I need to improve my game a little bit more to be better than Top 50. So I’ll work very hard to reach that."
Haddad Maia has had an eventful season in doubles as well. The Brazilian posted a nine-match doubles winning streak paired with Anna Danilina at the start of the year, winning the Sydney title and reaching her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open.
In the Saint-Malo final, a 78-minute first set saw Haddad Maia and Blinkova exchange breaks twice, but Haddad Maia notched seven of the last eight points in the tiebreak to clinch the lengthy opener.
Sterling drop shots helped Haddad Maia break for 2-0 in the second set. But Blinkova showed off her own skill with the drop shot as she used two in a row from her backhand side to pull back on serve at 3-2.
However, Blinkova stumbled and misfired wide on a drop shot on break point at 4-3, allowing Haddad Maia to serve for the title. At 30-30, a backhand winner gave Haddad Maia her first championship point, which she converted after Blinkova returned a strong serve into the net.
The powerful left-hander Haddad Maia saved seven of the 10 break points she faced in the final to complete the week.
Despite the loss, it still proved to be a strong event for 23-year-old Blinkova, who was seeking her second WTA 125 title after taking the 2019 New Haven championship on hard court.
Blinkova, a former World No.54 whose ranking has dipped out of the Top 100, won four straight three-set matches to make it to this week's final. The run included a quarterfinal victory over Bernarda Pera where Blinkova saved two match points.
"[Blinkova is] a very good player, she’s a fighter," said Haddad Maia. "I know her from a few years ago, she’s always working hard, so for sure she will have a great future as well. I hope we can have more battles like this one."
Also on Sunday, the Saint-Malo doubles title went to No.2 seeds Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya. The all-Japanese team beat the unseeded French pairing of Estelle Cascino and Jessika Ponchet 7-6(1), 6-1.
In a final that featured 12 breaks of serve combined, Hozumi and Ninomiya won 81 percent of points returning second serves en route to the 91-minute victory.
Hozumi and Ninomiya also won the WTA 250 Adelaide title in January, and were Roland Garros runners-up in 2018.