No.2 seed Irina-Camelia Begu provided the Tiriac Foundation Trophy with a home champion in its inaugural edition, defeating Reka Luca Jani 6-3, 6-3 in the final.
Begu had taken a Top 50 wild card into the WTA 125 tournament in her home town of Bucharest, where she had previously won the 250-level title in 2017. The 32-year-old Romanian has been on an upswing in 2022, reaching the fourth round of a major for the first time since 2016 at Roland Garros and then collecting her fifth tour-level trophy in Palermo in July.
This week, No.41-ranked Begu continued that form by winning the event without dropping a set, and conceding only 18 games in five matches. The final was her toughest of those, though: Begu needed an hour and 47 minutes to quell a dogged Jani, who led by an early break in the second set.
"It was a difficult game because of the wind but I knew what to expect," said Begu. "I had to be more patient and I'm glad that I was able to be strong in the most important moments.
"2016 was an extraordinary year for me [the year Begu reached her career-high of No.22]. I played very good back then, but now I think I am more mature, I am a better player and I am enjoying tennis much more now than then."
Though Begu's bigger game and greater power enabled her to keep her nose in front, protecting her lead was rarely straightforward. On three occasions, Begu captured her opponent's serve, only for Jani's proficiency on the dropshot and instincts for coming forward to respond with an immediate break back.
But after playing a superb game to get back on serve at 4-3 in the second set, the steam went out of Jani's comeback. The forehand that had been on song in that game started leaking errors, and the Hungarian lost eight of the last nine points of the match.
However, Jani's first WTA 125 final caps a stellar three-week stretch that saw the 31-year-old hit a career-high of No.114 ahead of her Bucharest run, which will lift her even closer to the Top 100. Two weeks ago, Jani won the biggest title of her career at the Prague ITF W60, and backed it up last week with a semifinal showing at the Bari 125 event.
Jani made her WTA main draw debut at Budapest 2011 and qualified for her first major at the US Open that year. This year, she returned to a Grand Slam main draw for the first time since then as a lucky loser at Roland Garros. In the past month, she has doubled her career total of Top 100 victories from three to six, with two of those wins coming in Bucharest. Jani overturned a 6-0, 3-0 deficit in the quarterfinals to beat No.6 seed Panna Udvardy 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, then took out Maryna Zanevska 7-5, 7-6(6) in the semifinals, coming from 5-3 down in both sets.
Zanevska, Errani shine; Bolsova, Gamiz take doubles title
Semifinalists Zanevska and Sara Errani also enjoyed strong showings in Bucharest. Zanevska routed No.4 seed Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-0 in the first round, and followed that win with victories over fast-rising 18-year-old Erika Andreeva 6-4, 6-3 in the second round and No.5 seed Mayar Sherif 6-1, 6-4 in the last eight. The Belgian has now reached three semifinals in 2022, following the Saint-Malo 125 and Hamburg at WTA 250 level.
Former World No.5 Errani is already a WTA 125 champion in 2022, having taken the Contrexéville title in July by defeating Dalma Galfi in the final. The Italian repeated that result in Bucharest, taking out No.8 seed Galfi 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the second round and then outlasting qualifier Rebeka Masarova 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
Like Begu, Sorana Cirstea also took a Top 50 wild card into her home tournament. However, the No.1 seed was ousted in the first round by No.118-ranked Simona Waltert 6-3, 6-3. The Swiss 21-year-old is now 3-0 in her career against Top 50 players, having also scored victories over Julia Goerges at Lausanne 2019 (via retirement) and her first Top 10 win over Danielle Collins at Lausanne 2022.
In doubles, No.1 seeds Aliona Bolsova and Andrea Gamiz captured their biggest title together after defeating Jani and Udvardy 7-5, 6-3 in the final. The Spanish-Venezuelan duo had previously lifted three ITF trophies with each other, but had not competed as a team since winning the 2021 Valencia ITF W80 event.
Gamiz had also reached a WTA 125 final the previous week in Bari alongside Eva Vedder, but this result marked her first title at this level. For Bolsova, it was a third WTA 125 title following Bol 2021 (with Katarzyna Kawa) and Valencia 2022 (with Masarova).