Alycia Parks' brilliant European autumn continued at the inaugural Crèdit Andorrà Open as the American picked up her first WTA 125 title with a 6-1, 6-4 final defeat of Rebecca Peterson.
Following the US Open, Parks had compiled an 18-24 record in 2022 and was ranked No.154. Since then, the 21-year-old has won 13 of 19 matches, including a breakthrough run to her first WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava that featured upsets of Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari. Consequently, she will become the 20th player to make her Top 100 debut this year on Monday.
Prior to this week, Parks owned only one professional title -- an ITF W25 in Orlando two years ago. But on the slick indoor courts of the biggest tournament to be held in the tiny Pyrenean principality of Andorra, the World No.134 delivered a masterclass in power and precision.
She opened her account with a 7-6(5), 2-6, 6-2 upset of another fast-rising youngster, the 18-year-old No.4 seed Linda Noskova -- the fifth Top 100 win of Parks' career. Two defeats of big-serving former Top 50 players followed: Océane Dodin 6-3, 7-6(6) in the second round and former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
The last four saw Parks dispatch No.8 seed Cristina Bucsa -- another player who was bidding for her Top 100 debut this week -- 6-3, 6-3. She kept up her dominant form in a 79-minute final during which she struck 30 winners (including 10 aces) to Peterson's five.
After a one-sided first set, Parks had to come through a few trickier situations against a battling Peterson in the second. She demonstrated some cool-headed tactics to pass these tests: after saving the only two break points she faced all match, Parks held for 1-1 with a neatly executed serve-and-volley play.
Later, after some fine net play from Peterson had helped stave off four break points to go down a double break, Parks was able to shrug off the disappointment, dropping just two more points on her own serve. Throughout, she kept the ball firmly away from Peterson's forehand, the Swede's primary weapon.
Despite the loss, Peterson will find her own ranking heading in the right direction again. The former World No.43's season was derailed by an ankle injury that forced her out of Roland Garros, but in Andorra la Vella she reached her second consecutive final following the Meitar ITF W60 two weeks ago. Her run was highlighted by a 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal upset of No.1 seed Zhang Shuai.
Konjuh streaks into semis; Bucsa, Scott make impact
Another player hot on the comeback trail was Ana Konjuh. The Croat has had more than her fair share of injury troubles in her career, and this year surgery on a fractured fibula sidelined her for three months and sent her ranking plummeting down to No.170 in October. But Konjuh has responded in style over the past three weeks, winning two consecutive ITF events in Bratislava and Ortisei before extending her winning streak to 13 in Andorra la Vella.
Konjuh's run this week included a 6-3, 6-2 upset of No.3 seed Tatjana Maria before the 24-year-old ran out of steam in the semifinals, falling 6-3, 6-1 to Peterson.
No.108-ranked Bucsa will still have to wait for her Top 100 debut, but a semifinal run by the Spaniard means that she continues to inch closer. Bucsa, 24, took her career tally of Top 100 wins to 11 after knocking off Kateryna Baindl 6-3, 6-3 in the second round and upsetting No.2 seed Alison Van Uytvanck 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
Arguably the match of the tournament occurred in the first round as 18-year-old American Katrina Scott saved a match point before overcoming Jessika Ponchet in three tiebreaks 7-6(4), 6-7(7), 7-6(6). At 3 hours and 43 minutes, the contest was the longest of the 2022 WTA 125 season, and only two main tour matches exceeded it.
Scott held her first match point at 5-4 in the second set on Ponchet's serve and had to save one serving at 5-6 in the third, and her power game ultimately won out over the Frenchwoman's idiosyncratic wiles.
Bucsa, Falkowska claim doubles title
Bucsa enjoyed further success in doubles, joining forces with Weronika Falkowska in a first-time partnership that claimed the biggest title of either player's career. Bucsa and Falkowska defeated Angelina Gabueva and Anastasia Zakharova 7-6(4), 6-1 in the final.
Bucsa had lost her only previous WTA 125 doubles final at Concord 2021 alongside Usue Maitane Arconada, falling to Peangtarn Plipuech and Jessy Rompies. She was also runner-up on the main tour in Portoroz this September alongside Tereza Mihalikova.
Poland's Falkowska, who also reached the first WTA 125 quarterfinal of her career in singles with a 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 upset of No.5 seed Dayana Yastremska, was contesting her first final above ITF level.