Donna Vekic captured her fourth career title on Sunday after defeating top seed Caroline Garcia 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the final of the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico. The victory netted Vekic her first Top 10 win of the season and first title since 2021.
Vekic will rise to No.24 on Monday, continuing her surge up the rankings after being sidelined by injury this time last year. Her victory on Sunday seals a 14-2 start to the 2023 season, just one win shy of the tour's leaders in match wins, with Garcia and Belinda Bencic setting the mark with 15 wins apiece.
Words from the winner: "It was a crazy match until the end, [Garcia] was playing so well, playing so deep," Vekic said after her win. "I was trying to win as many points as I could. It was not easy, but I’m really happy to win.
"It’s been a great start of the year for me. If the title didn’t come now, I believe that it would have come soon. So I’ve been playing good tennis, and I just need to keep working hard and hopefully stay healthy, and I’m sure I will keep having good results."
Tale of the tape: Seeded No.3 in Monterrey, Vekic went into her first final of the season full of confidence, having lost just one set during the week and going unbroken in her semifinal win over Zhu Lin. While Vekic held a 5-4 edge in the head-to-head over Garcia, the Frenchwoman had enjoyed an equally dominant week. Coming into the final, Garcia had not lost a set and had faced just six break points over four matches, dropping her serve just once.
2023 @Abierto_GNP singles champion 🏆@DonnaVekic secures her fourth career title with a win over the No.1 seed Garcia, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5! pic.twitter.com/W7vfIUsEJ2— wta (@WTA) March 6, 2023
How the match was won: Vekic struck first in the tight opening set, which was decided by just one break of serve. Vekic broke Garcia for a 2-1 lead and did not face a break point until she stepped to the line to serve out the set. But with a 0-40 advantage to get the set back on serve, Garcia failed to land three consecutive returns and Vekic closed out the opening set after 41 minutes.
Vekic looked poised for a straight-sets win after breaking Garcia on a netcord winner in the first game of the second set to hold a set and a break advantage. But the World No.5 elevated her level. Garcia finally broke the Vekic serve to even the set at 2-2. Buoyed by converting 78 percent of her serves, Garcia reeled off five consecutive games before Vekic stopped the run and sealed the set to force a decider. Eight of their 10 meetings have now gone to a final set.
Turning point: Vekic's resilience in the face of Garcia's relentless return pressure turned the tables in the third set. She wiped out four break points in her opening service game from 15-40 down to keep Garcia at bay and repeated the feat in an 11-minute game at 3-all.
Having seen eight break points pass her by in the set, it was Garcia who ultimately buckled. Serving to force a deciding tiebreak, Garcia misfired to give Vekic triple championship point. Vekic needed just one, as she watched Garcia's forehand fly wide to give her the victory in 2 hours and 29 minutes.
Let the fiesta begin 🎊🏆@DonnaVekic | #AbiertoGNPSeguros pic.twitter.com/df38wUaleF— wta (@WTA) March 6, 2023
Vekic finished the match with 33 winners to 26 unforced errors. Garcia hit 47 winners, including a personal season-high 15 aces, to 34 unforced errors.
Stat of the match: Vekic saved 16 of 18 break points in the match while staying perfect on her minimal chances, breaking on all three break points she earned. Her ability to hold was boosted by a strong serving performance. Vekic fired 13 aces -- her previous best this season was just seven -- and won 74% of her first-serve points, outpacing Garcia's 69% success rate.
Lizarazo and Perez Garcia capture maiden doubles titles: The Colombian team of Yuliana Lizarazo and Maria Paulina Perez Garcia defeated Kimberly Birrell and Fernanda Contreras Gomez 6-3, 5-7, 10-5 to cap off a remarkable WTA debut in Monterrey. Playing in just their fourth WTA-level doubles draw individually and first together as a team, Lizarazo, 29, and Perez Garcia, 27, took advantage of a semifinal walkover handed to them by top seeds Ana Bondar and Elena Gabriela Ruse to take home the biggest title of their careers.