It is time to add Liudmila Samsonova to this summer’s list of top-form players.
Big-hitting Samsonova scored her second title in a row and her 10th straight match-win with a commanding 6-1, 6-3 victory over No.7 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Saturday's final at Tennis in the Land presented by Motorola Edge.
World No.45 Samsonova claimed her second career WTA singles title at the beginning of August on the hard courts of Washington, D.C. After two weeks off, Samsonova picked up right where she left off in Cleveland, racing to her third career title without the loss of a set all week.
"It’s unbelievable to win two titles in a row for me here in the United States, I didn’t expect it," Samsonova said, after her latest win. "I like so much to play here because the surface is pretty fast, I love it. It was helping me in tough situations."
Fast facts: Samsonova had gone on a similar tear last summer, when she won her first career title on the grass courts of Berlin as a qualifier, then reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon as a wildcard.
Since then, Samsonova has proven that her power game translates to all surfaces, not just grass. The 23-year-old needed 1 hour and 12 minutes to beat World No.36 Sasnovich, winning 21 of her 26 first-service points in the match.
Samsonova joins World No.1 Iga Swiatek (6), Caroline Garcia (3), Simona Halep, Beatriz Haddad Maia, Ons Jabeur and Bernarda Pera (2 each) as the players who have won multiple singles titles in 2022. (Daria Kasatkina also was added to that list later on Saturday, with her second title of the year in Granby.)
Samsonova is now a perfect 3-0 in WTA singles finals. By contrast, Sasnovich has reached four singles finals in her career, but is still looking for her first title.
Match moments: Samsonova dropped her opening service game of the match, but that was her only misstep in the first set as she claimed the next five games to take the one-set lead. Samsonova had 11 winners to just three unforced errors in the opening frame.
Samsonova kept up her momentum in the second set, jumping out to a 5-2 lead, where she held her first championship point. Sasnovich erased that chance, though, with a wicked backhand slice winner, and she eventually held for 5-3.
However, Samsonova stayed solid, and she wrapped up the win on her second championship point after a backhand clipped the netcord and forced one last error from Sasnovich.
Next up: The players now head to the year's final Grand Slam at the US Open. Samsonova will play 16-year-old qualifier Sara Bejlek in the first round.
"I think [the US Open is] going to be a different tournament because the conditions are different there," Samsonova said. "But of course, I played five matches here, so I think they helped me."
Sasnovich will meet qualifier Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the US Open first round.
Doubling up: No.2 seeds Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez are also having a stellar August, but they had to grab two victories on Saturday in Cleveland before capturing their first team title.
Melichar-Martinez and Perez defeated No.4 seeds Anna Danilina and Aleksandra Krunic 7-5, 6-3 in the Cleveland final. Earlier in the day, Melichar-Martinez and Perez polished off their interrupted semifinal match over No.3 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching in straight sets as well.
Over the preceding two weeks, Melichar-Martinez and Perez saw their form skyrocket, reaching back-to-back WTA 1000 finals in Toronto and Cincinnati. Now they enter the winner's circle in Cleveland, hoisting champions' trophies for the first time in their partnership.
Victory in Cleveland marks the 12th WTA doubles title for Melichar-Martinez of the United States. Australia's Perez has now won five WTA doubles titles in her career.