No.2 seed Zheng Qinwen defeated Italy's Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 in the final of the Palermo Ladies Open to secure her first career title on the Hologic WTA Tour.
Ranked No.26 at the start of the week, Zheng became the 11th Chinese woman to win a WTA singles title. She joins Hua Hin champion Zhu Lin as the second Chinese champion of the season.
"I won my first WTA match here and also my first WTA title," Zheng said in her trophy speech, but you probably don't know that I won my first ITF championship in Italy.
"This is really special for me. This is my first WTA 250 championship. I will remember that."
Despite her inexperience on clay, the surface has been fertile ground for Zheng. The Barcelona-based 20-year-old posted her best Slam result at Roland Garros, advancing to the Round of 16 this spring, and now captures her first title on clay. The win, her 20th of the season, improves her season record on clay to 11-4.
How the match was won: In the first meeting between the two, Zheng came out of the blocks firing. She broke Paolini twice to build a 3-0 lead quickly. From 3-1 up, she did not face a break point for the remainder of the set.
After holding serve to open the second set, Paolini came through the longest game of the match to break en route to a 3-0 lead. Serving down 1-0, 15-40, Zheng saved five break points in a nine-deuce game but could not convert any of her five game points. Paolini added a second break two games later after Zheng double-faulted on break point and took the match into a decider after 94 minutes of play.
Paolini was bidding to join Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci, and Sara Errani as the fourth Italian champion in Palermo. The 27-year-old was now into her fourth three-set match of the week, having already knocked out the No.1 seed Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals.
Zheng quickly put the second set behind her. With her new coach Wim Fissette watching on, Zheng broke first in the third set, aided by a stinging backhand winner that earned a roar of defiance. Having snuffed out Paolini's momentum, Zheng methodically powered her way through the final set.
Serving for the title at 5-1, Zheng misfired on her first two Championship Points but sealed the win on her third with a flurry of forehands, punctuated by her final winner of the match.
Kimberley Zimmermann triples up in Palermo
Top seeds Kimberley Zimmermann and Yana Sizikova took home the doubles trophy, defeating Angelica Moretelli and Camilla Rosatello 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
The victory is Zimmermann's third consecutive Palermo title. The 27-year-old Belgian won in 2021 with Erin Routliffe and in 2022 with Ana Bondar.
Palermo is also Sizikova's third career title and first since winning 2022 Prague with Anastasia Potapova.