Ekaterina Alexandrova captured her second career title on the Hologic WTA Tour on Sunday, defeating top seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 6-0 to win the Libema Open. The World No.30 rallied from a break down in the opening set to win 11 of the last 12 games to seal her first title of the season.
Alexandrova, 25, came into 's-Hertogenbosch amid a strong 2022 campaign. Her win over Sabalenka was her second Top 10 win of the season and her 20th victory of the year. She leaves The Netherlands with her first grass title, first title since winning 2017 Shenzhen, and a strong 20-11 record on the year.
How the match was won: Alexandrova lost just one set en route to her first final of the season. She tallied wins over Dayana Yastremska, Anhelina Kalinina, Caty McNally, and Veronika Kudermetova. She lost a total of just five games in her last two matches heading into Sunday's showdown.
That confidence proved crucial as Alexandrova manufactured her comeback to run away with the title. Sabalenka began the final well, building a 4-2 lead after breaking Alexandrova in the longest game of the match. But Sabalenka would win just one more game. Alexandrova broke back immediately to 4-3 and faced just one break point for the remainder of the match.
As Alexandrova began to roll through her service games, Sabalenka's groundstrokes buckled. Alexandrova hit just three more winners than Sabalenka in the match, 16 vs. 13. But she also kept a clean sheet, hitting 18 unforced errors to 31 for Sabalenka.
🏆🏆— wta (@WTA) June 12, 2022
Ekaterina Alexandrova defeats Sabalenka in 's-Hertogenbosch to win her second career WTA singles title!#LibemaOpen pic.twitter.com/PmUg35Fhmo
"Grass is a difficult surface for everyone because the bounce is unpredictable," Alexandrova said. "You just need to try to do your best in every single shot because you don't know what's going to come next.
"When I played the first match here, I would never expect to play finals here and win the title. It was so bad, I couldn't hit anything inside the court. But match after match, it was easier to find the rhythm and find the game. In the last match, I found it, and I just tried to keep it during the whole match."
World No.6 Sabalenka was contesting her second final of the last two months. A finalist at 2018 Eastbourne and semifinalist at Wimbledon last summer, Sabalenka is still looking for her first grass-court title and first title of the season.
Stat of the match: As she had throughout the week, Alexandrova set herself apart on Sunday with her serve. Coming into the tournament, Alexandrova was ranked No.2 on tour in aces. She also ranked in the Top 10 in first serve points won (71.4% - No.4) and overall service points won (60.9% - No.8).
Those trends continued against Sabalenka, as Alexandrova won 74.4% of her first-serve points, 52.2% of her second-serve points, and 66.1% of her service points overall.
Alexandrova, all-surface threat: "I played good on the clay, which I thought never would happen because I hated the clay so much," Alexandrova said. "But I played semifinals of Madrid on clay. For me, it was like, if I can play good on clay, I can play on any surface. It helps a lot, it's a good confidence boost.
"I just want to keep it like it was this week and hope for the best."