Mayar Sherif defeated top seed Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open to become the first woman from Egypt to win a Hologic WTA Tour title.
"It means a lot for my country," Sherif said. "It means a lot for the people back home, my family, all the hard work, all the mental struggles in the last weeks. I'm just thrilled and happy. This was never expected."
With play canceled on Friday due to rain, No.74 Sherif's history-making day required a grueling effort to win both the semifinal and final on Saturday. The 26-year-old needed nearly three hours to defeat No.6 seed Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals earlier in the day, while Sakkari eased through to her first final since Indian Wells with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Danka Kovinic.
Sherif's win over No.7 Sakkari was her first Top 10 win of her career.
"I'm exhausted," Sherif said. "Today was a very tough day for me, many hours on court. I'm very happy that I pulled it off. I had to dig very deep."
"The first match was emotionally and mentally tough. There were so many key moments in the match, a lot of pressure. But after I won that match it gave me a lot of confidence so I used that for the match right after."
Playing in her second career WTA final and first of the season, Sherif quickly set aside any concerns of fatigue from her semifinal effort. After falling behind an early break at 2-0, Sherif buckled down and broke Sakkari four times in the opening set. Taking advantage of Sakkari's low first-serve percentage of 44%, Sherif converted all four break points she earned in the first set while playing a physical, disciplined game from the baseline.
As she served to force a tiebreak at 5-6, Sakkari failed to convert three game points from 40-15 up. The top seed misfired on back-to-back forehands to drop the set after 54 minutes.
Sakkari once again earned an early break in the second set at 2-0 but failed to hold her lead. In the face of Sherif's relentless consistency, Sakkari continued to misfire. Sherif broke back and leveled the set at 2-2 and would lose just one game for the remainder of the match.
Sherif finished the match with 10 winners to 11 unforced errors and generated 13 break points, converting six. Sakkari hit 22 winners to 22 unforced errors.
Sakkari was bidding to win her first title since winning Rabat in 2019. The loss dropped her record in WTA finals to 1-5. Sakkari will head to the Agel Open in Ostrava next. For more on Ostrava, click here.
In doubles, the unseeded Czech team of Anastasia Detiuc and Miriam Kolodziejova came from a set down to defeat Arantxa Rus and Tamara Zidansek 1-6, 6-3, [10-8] to win their first title.