The ascendant season of 18-year-old Diana Shnaider resulted in her first WTA 125 title this week, as she eased past No.10 seed Leolia Jeanjean 6-4, 6-4 to triumph at the Montevideo Open.
Shnaider took 1 hour and 38 minutes to best Jeanjean in Sunday's final and prevail at the clay-court event in Uruguay, continuing the teenager's rapid rise this year. Shnaider started 2022 ranked World No.875 but will reach No.109 on Monday.
Left-handed Shnaider peaked at a ranking of No.3 on the junior circuit, with three Junior Grand Slam doubles titles on her resume. But Shnaider's pro career is also burgeoning, having already won four ITF Challenger singles titles prior to clinching the trophy in Montevideo.
Shnaider started off this week with a challenging opponent, facing former Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani in the first round. However, Shnaider gritted through that match 7-6(3), 7-5, and she went on to take the title without the loss of a set.
In the final, Shnaider faced the all-court craft of Jeanjean, who was also contesting her first WTA 125 final. Jeanjean, who made the third round at this year's Roland Garros in her Grand Slam debut, had dropped only one set en route to the final.
But Shnaider got off the mark quickly on Sunday, breaking Jeanjean in the first game with a backhand winner. Shnaider then began to dominate the set with her powerful lefty forehands, leaping to a 4-1 lead.
Serving for the first set at 5-4, Shnaider slammed three forehand winners on her way to double set point. On her second set point, Shnaider deployed a successful drop shot, forcing a wide miscue from Jeanjean.
In the second set, Jeanjean fired sturdy returns to come back from a break down and level affairs at 4-4. However, two double faults by Jeanjean in the next game, including on break point, allowed Shnaider to serve for the championship at 5-4.
In that game, Shnaider saw a Jeanjean backhand fly wide on her second championship point. Shnaider converted five of her 13 break points on the day, winning 60 percent of her second-service return points.
The doubles title went to the all-Brazilian duo of Ingrid Gamarra Martins and Luisa Stefani, after the No.2 seeds outlasted Quinn Gleason and Elixane Lechemia 7-5, 6-7(6), [10-6] in Saturday's final.
Gamarra Martins and Stefani dropped only 10 games in their three victories on their way to the championship match, but it came down to the wire in the final before they squeaked past Gleason and Lechemia after 2 hours and 6 minutes.
Former WTA Doubles World No.9 Stefani missed a year of action after suffering an ACL injury at last year's US Open, but she continues to flourish in her return, adding a WTA 125 title to the two Hologic WTA Tour doubles titles she has already won in the last two months.
Stefani has won a total of three WTA 125 doubles titles in her career. Her compatriot Gamarra Martins, meanwhile, won her first WTA 125 title this week in Montevideo.
More to come...