Lucia Bronzetti of Italy battled to her first WTA singles title at the Grand Prix Son Altesse Royale La Princesse Lalla Meryem on Saturday, overcoming Austria’s Julia Grabher 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in a back-and-forth final.
In the clash between two players seeking their first title, it was World No.102 Bronzetti who prevailed in 2 hours and 48 minutes on the clay courts of Rabat and took a 2-1 lead in her head-to-head with 74th-ranked Grabher.
Bronzetti, who came back from a break down at 3-1 in the third set, is the second straight Italian to take the title in Rabat. Martina Trevisan hoisted the trophy last year.
On the rebound: Bronzetti, who reached the Palermo final last year and peaked at No.50 this January, punctuated a huge turnaround in her recent WTA-level play with the title. Before coming to Rabat, the Italian had lost her last 10 tour-level main-draw matches.
But a home-soil run to the semifinals of the WTA 125 event in Florence last week kickstarted Bronzetti’s return to form. Bronzetti carried that level of play into Rabat, where she was a semifinalist last year.
Match moments: Bronzetti dropped only four games total in her quarterfinal and semifinal wins combined, but she was pushed all the way by Grabher in the final. Bronzetti was sturdier off the ground in the early going, as she built a 6-4, 5-4 lead and served for the championship.
However, Grabher's powerful forehand became more effective as the match wore on, and Grabher won the next three games to eke out the second set. A drop volley winner gave Grabher a 3-1 lead in the third set, as she aimed to become the first Austrian WTA singles champion since 2013.
But a Bronzetti passing winner in the following game put her back on serve, and she eventually served for the match again at 5-4 in the third. Another Grabher forehand winner allowed the Austrian to break back for 5-5, but she double faulted down break point to cede another lead to the Italian.
Serving for the match for a third time at 6-5, Bronzetti fired a forehand winner to set up her first championship point, and she closed out the match after a wide Grabher forehand. Bronzetti converted six of 13 break points in the match, while Grabher was 5-for-11.
Down to the wire in doubles: In Saturday's doubles final, Sabrina Santamaria and Yana Sizikova squeaked past Lidziya Marozava and Ingrid Gamarra Martins 3-6, 6-1, [10-8] to take the title.
Santamaria and Sizikova took 1 hour and 28 minutes to eke out the win, in just their third tournament together. They also teamed up at 2018 Tianjin and the 2021 Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne.
Sizikova won her third WTA doubles title, having previously teamed with Anastasia Potapova to win 2019 Lausanne and 2022 Prague. This is Santamaria's second WTA doubles title, after pairing with Catherine Harrison to win 2022 Monterrey.
More to come...