No.3 seed Mayar Sherif of Egypt prevailed in a mammoth battle in the WTA 125 Makarska Open final on Sunday, saving six championship points in a 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 victory over No.2 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy.
In a showdown between two of the most successful performers at WTA 125 tournaments, it was World No.54 Sherif who triumphed in just under three hours in her first meeting with Paolini, ranked one spot higher at No.53.
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Sherif improves her perfect record in WTA 125 finals to 5-0. This is the Egyptian's first WTA 125 title of this year after winning three of those titles last season and another in 2021. Paolini, meanwhile, is now a two-time winner and a two-time runner-up at WTA 125 events.
Sherif trailed 6-2, 5-2 in the match, and stared down three championship points on her serve at 5-4. The Egyptian mixed in winning passes and drop shots to drag the set into a tiebreak, but Paolini fired an error-forcing forehand to garner two more championship points at 6-4 in the breaker.
However, Sherif erased those as well, and she fired another deft drop shot to lead 7-6 and grab her first set point. There, Sherif slammed a backhand winner to level the match at one set apiece.
Sherif faced a sixth championship point down 5-3 in the third set, but she fired a passing winner to erase Paolini's last chance. Sherif then broke for 5-5 on her fifth break point of that lengthy game, and she eased to her fifth career WTA 125 title from there, winning the last four games in succession.
Each player had 11 break points on the day, but Sherif's total of six service breaks was one more than Paolini's five, making the whisker-thin difference in the comeback.
The Makarska doubles championship was decided on Saturday, when No.2 seeds Ingrid Neel of Estonia and Wu Fang-Hsien of Chinese Taipei defeated unseeded Czechs Anna Siskova and Renata Voracova 6-3, 7-5.
After eight consecutive service breaks in the second set, Neel and Wu ended that streak by successfully serving out the match at 6-5 and clinching victory after 1 hour and 26 minutes.
Neel and Wu are both an undefeated 2-0 in WTA 125 doubles finals, but this is their first title as a partnership.