No.7 seed Arantxa Rus claimed the biggest title of her career, and first at WTA 125 level, at the Open Internacional Femení Solgironès with a 7-6(2), 6-3 defeat of No.3 seed Panna Udvardy in 1 hour and 56 minutes.
Rus, 32, had previously lost three WTA 125 finals: Taipei 2017 to Belinda Bencic, Bol 2021 to Jasmine Paolini and Belgrade 2021 to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. The victory will see the No.114-ranked Dutchwoman return to the Top 100 for the first time since last September. Rus' career-high is No.61, which she first hit in August 2012 and then again in October 2021.
Rus had previously been the 2021 runner-up in La Bisbal d'Empordà to Irina Khromacheva, when the Spanish tournament was an ITF W60 event. She dropped just two sets en route to the title, defeating No.4 seed Caroline Dolehide 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals and Maria Lourdes Carle 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in the semifinals.
Rus held her nerve through a tight first set in which she first led by a break at 2-0, then trailed by a break down 4-3. At 6-5 on Udvardy's serve, Rus squandered three set points, but recovered to dominate the ensuing tiebreak, continuing to go after her left-handed forehand while Udvardy lapsed into error.
In the second set, Rus maintained her momentum to seize the first break at 3-2. A battling Udvardy immediately broke back, but as the Hungarian's backhand proved increasingly wayward, Rus reeled off the final three games of the match.
"It was a very good match, a great fight," said Rus afterwards. "The first set was very long and could have gone either way. I was fighting every point and trying to stay there, stay there, focusing on my game.
"I've played already many, many years and the level has got higher and higher. There are lots of good players and up-and-coming players; you really need to be strong in all areas."
Despite the loss, the tournament was a positive one for No.97-ranked Udvardy, who had won her first WTA 125 title in Buenos Aires last November. The 24-year-old had suffered torn ankle ligaments in Merida this February, sidelining her for the next three months.
Prior to this week, Udvardy had lost the first four matches of her return, but she got back on track with quality wins over Kaja Juvan 7-6(1), 6-1 in the quarterfinals and No.1 seed Rebeka Masarova 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals.
Elsewhere, Carle continued her surge towards the Top 100 by reaching her second career WTA 125 semifinal following Buenos Aires 2022. The No.151-ranked Argentinian player has been in fine form over the past month, winning 14 of her past 16 matches including ITF titles in Bastad, Sweden and Bodrum, Türkiye. In the quarterfinals, she scored her first Top 100 win outside of Billie Jean King Cup action with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 upset of No.2 seed Jil Teichmann.
Dolehide, Shnaider take doubles title: In an all-unseeded doubles final, first-time pairing Caroline Dolehide and Diana Shnaider defeated Spanish duo Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova 7-6(5), 6-3.
It is a first WTA 125 doubles title for the 19-year-old Shnaider, who won her first singles trophy at this level in Montevideo last November. Dolehide has made four doubles finals on the main Hologic WTA Tour, including a title at Monterrey 2021 alongside Asia Muhammad.