HOUSTON, TX, USA -- Wild card Peng Shuai of China made a triumphant return to top-level tennis in her first tournament since Wimbledon, taking the title at the Oracle Challenger Series Houston WTA 125K Series event, after a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 comeback win over American qualifier Lauren Davis in Sunday's final.
Playing in her first event since falling to Samantha Stosur in the first round at SW19 four months ago, former World No.14 Peng overcame a disappointing first set to engineer a come-from-behind victory via nearly two-and-a-half hours of play. Peng had five aces in the tilt, and won two-thirds of points on her first serve.
Peng's triumph in Texas is her second career title at WTA 125K Series level, having won at Nanchang in 2014. Peng also has two singles titles at WTA International level, winning in Tianjin in 2016 and again at Nanchang in 2017.
Persistent rain throughout the day caused the final to be delayed numerous times before the decision was made to play the championship match indoors, which is where the former Top 30 players, both of whom are currently ranked outside the Top 200, battled for the last WTA 125K Series trophy of the season.
It took former World No.26 Davis 46 minutes to claim the first set, despite the lopsided scoreline. Nevertheless, the American won most of the key points throughout the opening frame, converting all three of her break points while saving the three break points against her.
Davis then went up an early break in the second set, leading 3-1, before the Chinese player began to turn the tables. Peng broke back, at love, for 3-2, and held firm up to 5-5. There, Peng broke Davis for the second time in the match, and served out the set at love at 6-5, to level the encounter at one set apiece.
In the decider, both players served superbly: they both got over 75 percent of their first serves in play, while Davis won 72 percent of her first-serve points, and Peng won an excellent 80 percent of those points. There was only one break point in the final set, and unfortunately for Davis, it was against her in the very first game, which Peng converted. That was enough to hand the Chinese player the title.