Back-to-back: For the second week running, Beatriz Haddad Maia is leaving a Hologic WTA Tour event with the trophy. The Brazilian won two matches at the Rothesay Classic Birmingham on Sunday to be crowned champion, with her day ending early when China's Zhang Shuai retired from the championship match with a back injury.
After rain washed out Saturday's scheduled semifinals, both players played three-set matches on Sunday morning to reach the final. Eighth-seeded Zhang came from a set down in beating Sorana Cirstea, while Haddad Maia outlasted Simona Halep for her ninth straight win.
In the pair's second career meeting, Zhang won the first two games of the final and had three chances to stretch her lead to 3-0. Haddad Maia broke back in that game though, and also broke Zhang's serve at 3-3; after Zhang held serve from 0-30 down in the ninth game, however, she soon retired from the championship with Haddad Maia up 5-4 and prepared to serve for the set.
After consulting with medical staff on the changeover, Zhang walked slowly to the net and hugged Haddad Maia, her doubles partner in a title-winning run in Nottingham last week. In turn, Haddad Maia had kind and heartfelt words for Zhang after the match.
"I can't say enough ... You deserve what you had during this week. Every single day last week, you were enjoying every day. When we were warming up, we were playing doubles, you were making me feel stronger," Haddad Maia said on-court.
"You showed me, 'Why not?' We can have friends on the tour. You're a huge tennis player and a special person. Tennis is something that passes, but the human side never goes, so congratulations for the person that you are."
Haddad Maia now joins Ons Jabeur, who won in Berlin less than an hour earlier, and Iga Swiatek as players to win multiple Hologic WTA Tour titles this year. She's the first Brazilian to win in Birmingham's 40-year history; Gisele Miro had the best previous result by a player from Brazil in Birmingham, reaching the second round in 1989.
Ranked No. 83 entering the Australian Open in January, Haddad Maia will now likely be seeded at Wimbledon when it begins next Monday. She'll check in at a new career-high ranking of No. 29 in next week's rankings.
No.2 seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko won the doubles title without hitting a ball, as Zhang and partner Elise Mertens, the No.1 seeds, issued them a walkover. It's their first title together; Kichenok and Ostapenko were previously runners-up in Dubai in February.