BUCHAREST, Romania - In an all-unseeded final at the BRD Bucharest Open between two players both bidding for their first title, Elena Rybakina got the better of qualifier Patricia Maria Tig 6-2, 6-0 in just one hour and five minutes.
The Kazakh becomes the 10th maiden WTA Tour champion of the year, and the fourth player to capture a title without dropping a set following Sofia Kenin in Hobart, Ashleigh Barty in Birmingham and Karolina Pliskova in Eastbourne. Rybakina, who turned 20 one month ago, is also the fourth-youngest titlist of the season following Hua Hin and Strasbourg champion Dayana Yastremska, Indian Wells winner Bianca Andreescu and Bogota victor Amanda Anisimova.
Tig, whose Cinderella run to her second career final as an unranked qualifier returning from two years sidelined first due to injuries and then maternity leave has been one of the week's most heartwarming stories, was herself seeking to become the first mother to win a WTA Tour title since Tatjana Maria in Mallorca last year - but, playing her eighth match of the week, the Romanian was flat in comparison to her previous matches. Tig conceded the first break of the match with a netted dropshot to fall behind 1-2, and would commit six double faults over the course of the match - twice when facing break point.
By contrast, Rybakina's smooth technique and easy power were largely in full flow. The World No.106 was repeatedly able to get Tig on the back foot immediately in points with formidable returns, and tallied 30 winners to just 14 unforced errors, with her down-the-line shotmaking drawing frequent gasps.
Neither were there many signs of nerves from the first-time finalist. Indeed, the only danger zone for Rybakina came midway through the first set: having missed two break points to go up a double break, a series of loose errors from the youngster beckoned Tig back into the set. But two chances to level at 3-3 went begging for the 2015 Baku runner-up when an attempted pass found the net - and then when Rybakina, chasing down a dropshot, managed to find a counterdrop that dribbled over a friendly net cord.
Once Rybakina had successfully navigated that passage of play, the 's-Hertogenbosch semifinalist rarely looked troubled again, playing within herself as she dominated a second set in which she never faced game point and only conceded eight points in total. Breaking Tig three further times, Rybakina also had the presence of mind to wheel out a canny dropshot on her first championship point to seal a victory that will see her make her Top 100 debut in style in next week's rankings.