BRONX, NY, USA - Polish qualifier Magda Linette put in a spirited performance in the final of the inaugural NYJTL Bronx Open, coming back from a set down against Camila Giorgi to claim the first title of her career, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4.
"It means the world to us," Linette told press afterwards. "I’m 27, so it’s not super super young. So it means really a lot. It gives a lot of boost - you know, for the confidence, and also a reward. Finally, it’s a reward for us, for all the hard work."
Ranked No.80 in the world, Linette had to fight through three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw in the Bronx. On her way to the final - her eighth match of the week - she had to fight past No.9 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich, No.10 seed Karolina Muchova and No.5 seed Katerina Siniakova before her clash with Giorgi.
Up against the Italian was a chance to take home her first WTA title - she had only reached one WTA final previously, at the Japan Open in 2015 - but also a chance for revenge: Giorgi defeated Linette in their only previous meeting, at the Pole’s home tournament in Katowice that same year.
The pair were locked into a close battle in the first set, trading breaks to start off the match. Giorgi powered her way to an early advantage, breaking at 1-0, but a spate of double faults gave Linette the break right back to level the score.
Linette reeled off the next few games to get ahead 3-1, but Giorgi applied the pressure with her high-octane shotmaking to erase her lead at 3-3. Deadlocked for the next few games that followed, was qualifier Linette who blinked first, and a pair of luck netcords set up Giorgi to break at 6-5. The Italian served out the next game to love, claiming the opening set.
But Linette, who was playing her eighth consecutive match after fighting through the qualifying rounds earlier in the week, was right back in it in the second set. She opened up a 3-0 lead with an early break, and held off her opponent even as Giorgi broke back to level the score at 4-4.
Willed on by the Linette fought through a marathon ninth game to hold her serve, fending off four break points in the process. She held a pair of set points on Giorgi’s serve, but the Italian held as well to make it 5-5. Finally it was Linette who broke through, avoiding the tiebreak to level the match at a set apice, 7-5.
"I was really surprised how many Polish people are around here, so I’m really thankful for them that they came and supported me," Linette grinned. "It’s great, because we don’t have a tournament in Poland, we’re not really used to having a home crowd. So it’s always that they come for the big tournaments, I’m so happy that they came to watch my final."
She had an uphill battle on her hands when Giorgi once again got off to an early break, 2-0. Battling fatigue, Linette had to fight off four break points as Giorgi looked to extend her lead, holding firm at 3-2 to keep herself in the contest. But in the end, it was all Linette, who found a second wind to reel off the last four games in a row, breaking twice and taking the match - along with her first WTA title.
"I think it was a lot with the confidence," Linette explained. "Because in the practices, I knew that I could do great - I’ve played in practices with many top players, and I know I’m able to beat them, but when I went to the matches, something was missing. And that was the confidence. Here, I was just finding it from match to match."