In a battle between first-time WTA finalists, American Alison Riske out-hit WTA Rising Star Belinda Bencic to win the inaugural edition of the Tianjin Open.
WTA Staff

TIANJIN, China - Alison Riske captured the first WTA title of her career on Sunday, holding off a late surge from WTA Rising Star Belinda Bencic to win the inaugural edition of the Tianjin Open.

The No.6-seeded Riske - who had dropped just one game in her semifinal match against another WTA Rising Star, Zheng Saisai - came out swinging again a day later, her big serve and even bigger ground game launching her to a 6-3, 4-1 lead. The No.3-seeded Bencic wasn't about to go away, running off the next three games to even the second set, 4-all, and even getting to break point in the next game.

But Riske regrouped just in time, holding serve then breaking once more to close it out, 6-3, 6-4.

"It's a huge accomplishment for me to win my first WTA title," Riske said after the match, "and I was here by myself, which made it even more special, just to know that I was able to do it by myself.

"I hope I can keep up the momentum and try to compete every week as best as I can."

Riske also showed an even more gracious side when asked about Bencic's second set fightback.

"Obviously there was a little momentum change in the second set," she said, "but that was because Belinda upped her level at that point. She's been playing so well this year and has a really bright future ahead of her. I knew coming into the match that it would be a battle and it really was."

She was also asked about the tournament's motto: "Begin The Dream; Battle Your Heart".

"I would look at it every day when I came in the door," the American said. "I was like, 'That's a really good saying.' I really liked it. And it's so true. It's just a great saying.

"They should hang that at every tournament!"

The 17-year-old Bencic was playing the first WTA final of her career and was trying to become the youngest player to win a WTA title since a 15-year-old Tamira Paszek won in Portoroz in 2006.

There was some big news in the doubles final too, as Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova won their third WTA doubles title of the year together and in doing so became the eighth and last team to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global (read more here).