ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Pauline Parmentier of France clinched her third WTA career singles title -- and first in ten years -- with a topsy-turvy 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Slovenia's Polona Hercog at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup on Sunday.
Hercog had the head-to-head advantage coming into the championship match between the two unseeded players, having won their only previous encounter in Bogota in 2011 in three grueling sets. But it was the World No.122 from France who emerged victorious on the day in a tough two hours and 13 minutes.
The Frenchwoman adds another WTA singles trophy to her spoils from Tashkent in 2007 and Bad Gastein in 2008, and moves to a pristine 3-0 in WTA singles finals during her lengthy career. Parmentier is also projected to move back into the Top 100 come Monday after her Istanbul triumph.
Parmentier finished the match with only seven winners, and fired 27 unforced errors during the match as well. But Hercog had 34 unforced errors of her own, more than her 26 winners. Parmentier ended up succeeding by breaking the Slovenian seven times in 11 chances, while Hercog also had 11 break points, but ended up with one fewer break of service than the Frenchwoman.
Hercog started the match with an obvious mission statement, winning the first three points with powerful forehands en route to a quick hold. But Parmentier stayed unfazed, and after she held for 1-1, the players moved into a section where five consecutive breaks of serve took place, both players attempting to dictate with their service returns and forehands, and mainly succeeding.
Parmentier broke the spell, holding at love for a 5-3 lead, which would give her a strong advantage in the set. Hercog also held in the next game with a forehand winner, but she was still down a break, and after a tense start to the game, Parmentier eventually held for 6-4 to close out the set, as Hercog had two miscues to end the opening frame.
Parmentier continued to hold the momentum early in the second set, breaking for 2-1 on her third break point of the game, and easily consolidating the break to lead 3-1. At this juncture, it seemed like it would be a quick day at the office for the 32-year-old Frenchwoman.
But Hercog fought back in the next Parmentier service game, claiming triple break point with a crosscourt winner off of her celebrated forehand, and leveling the set at 3-3 one point later. The Slovenian was spurred on from there, breaking Parmentier again to lead 5-3 after two more consecutive forehand winners closed out that game.
Serving for the set, a nervy Hercog let a 40-0 lead slip, but a forehand unforced error by Parmentier at deuce queued up a fourth set point for the World No.75, and on that occasion, the Frenchwoman faltered, firing a forehand wide. Hercog had 12 winners in the second set, with only nine unforced errors, and from a set and a break down, the comeback appeared to be afoot.
Having reeled off five straight games to close out the second set, as the decider began, it was Hercog who had captured the momentum in the match. 27-year-old Hercog was also desperately seeking her third career WTA singles title, not having hoisted a singles trophy since she won her second of two consecutive championships in Bastad, Sweden.
Indeed, Hercog got the first break of the third set, taking Parmentier's serve at love to lead 2-1. But Parmentier immediately broke back for 2-2 as forehand rallies started to once again favor the less inconsistent Frenchwoman.
Parmentier began to dominate the rallies as the set progressed, using stunning depth of shot to shake Hercog into mistakes. The French player grasped an important break at 3-2, pushing Hercog far back in the court with a deep forehand and forcing the Slovenian into dumping a forehand error into the net to cede the game.
Hercog made another push, breaking back with more strong forehands in the following game to pull back on serve at 4-3, but she was mired in errors on her delivery at this point of the tilt, and quickly dropped serve again to hand over a 5-3 lead to Parmentier.
The Frenchwoman had to fend off one more break point in the final game before three straight errors by Hercog sealed the Slovenian's fate, and sent an ecstatic Parmentier collapsing to the ground as she celebrated a long-awaited third singles title.
More to follow...