Valentini Grammatikopoulou of Greece won the highest-level title of her career on Sunday, topping No.2 seed Lucia Bronzetti of Italy 6-2, 6-4 to clinch the WTA 125 Odlum Brown VanOpen in Vancouver, Canada.
The 25-year-old Grammatikopoulou, ranked World No.239, took 1 hour and 17 minutes to upset 23-year-old Bronzetti, ranked 66th.
"I enjoyed Vancouver so much that in the end I was really relaxed to play tennis," Grammatikopoulou said after capturing her career-best trophy.
Grammatikopoulou had to stay relaxed through seven matches this week, coming from the qualifying rounds all the way to the crown. The event helps the Greek bounce back from a 14-22 start to the season at all levels.
"This year was really tough," Grammatikopoulou said. "When you don't have results, it really affects your life, on court as well."
The first woman ever to go from qualifying ➡ champion🏆 at the @Odlum_Brown #VanOpen!— Odlum Brown VanOpen (@vanopentennis) August 21, 2022
Your 2022 women's singles champion is Valentini Grammatikopoulou 🇬🇷!#vanopentennis #wta125 #wtatennis #wta @WTA pic.twitter.com/Tan391HfYT
But Grammatikopoulou rekindled her form in Vancouver, dropping only one set in the main draw after two close wins in the qualifying rounds.
Grammatikopoulou saved some of her best work for the final against rising Italian Bronzetti, who reached her first Hologic WTA Tour singles final earlier this summer in Palermo.
The Greek fell behind 2-0 early, but she forged ahead, making numerous forays to the net to pressure Bronzetti. After pulling back on serve, a winning volley and two bold forehand winners gave Grammatikopoulou a break lead at 4-2.
The aggressive tactics continued to pay off, and Grammatikopoulou notched six straight games to take the first set, which ended with a Bronzetti double fault.
Grammatikopoulou fell behind by a break in the second set as well, but she pulled off another comeback. At 5-4, a rally forehand set up an overhead winner to give Grammatikopoulou double championship point, and she converted the first chance after a wide Bronzetti error.
All told, Grammatikopoulou fired four aces and converted five of her seven break points in the final.
Our women's Champion. Valentini Grammatikopoulou. From qualifiers to her first wta125 title her at the @Odlum_Brown #vanopen Congratulations 👏 #WTA #wtatennis #wta125 #wtachampion pic.twitter.com/J1KyMX4Y5i— Odlum Brown VanOpen (@vanopentennis) August 21, 2022
Grammatikopoulou said the key was to "keep smiling and just play tennis! Doesn't matter the results. So many people came, so I really enjoyed it, that they came and supported me. In the end, it didn't matter if I'd win or lose."
But perhaps one former Top 10 ATP player in particular spurred Grammatikopoulou on to her breakthrough week.
"The second match of [qualifying], one of my favorite players came to support me," Grammatikopoulou said. "I was really totally in seventh heaven, because he's my favorite player of all time, Gilles Simon.
"Maybe he gave me some energy, that I played extra on my game!"
Your 2022 @odlumbrown #VanOpen women's doubles champions are Miyu Kato 🇯🇵 and Asia— Odlum Brown VanOpen (@vanopentennis) August 21, 2022
Congratulations to women's doubles finalists Timea
Babos 🇭🇺 and Angela Kulikov 🇺🇸 on a great
📷: Bo Mon Kwan pic.twitter.com/4NPdDm0NkH
On Saturday, the doubles final went the way of No.1 seeds Miyu Kato of Japan and Asia Muhammad of the United States. Kato and Muhammad defeated No.4 seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Angela Kulikov of the United States 6-3, 7-5.