BUCHAREST, Romania - Two years after taking a tough loss to Simona Halep in the BRD Bucharest final, the Latvian veteran finally took home the trophy at one of her three favorite tournaments, outlasting Petra Martic in two tough sets to win her third WTA title and second since coming out of retirement in 2015.
"I love it here, I love playing here," she told the Treizecizero.ro team on Facebook Live. I like it because there is so many people coming, you know, the public. They cheer for you, they scream. It’s a good atmosphere to play here, I think. There’s also night matches, and it’s still full, even for the very late matches!"
Sevastova played several matches under the lights of Bucharest's Centre Court, including a three-set comeback against hometown favorite Sorana Cirstea, but the toughest test came in the final. Martic, herself in the midst of a comeback after a lengthy battle with injuries, had dropped just two games to the Latvian in their previous encounter at the 2017 French Open, a match Sevastova admitted she'd rather forget.
"I watched a lot of her matches here. She was always playing before me or after, so I watched. It was always on TV. I didn’t want to take anything from the match from Roland Garros! It was a bad match, it was quick, maybe 40 minutes. So, I can’t take anything from that. I played bad, she played good, so she also had some chance also to go further.
"I knew she was tired here, she played some long matches, like against [Laura] Siegemund, I watched a lot of this match, because they played before me, so it helped me, I think."
The 28-year-old gritted out a win in the first set tie-break and ultimately cruised to win her first clay court title in eight years.
"I think if you want to win the tournament, you need to have these matches. You have to have at least one or two tough matches, because you don’t win a huge tournament without that. If you go through these matches, you have more confidence, the belief that you can still win these matches when you’re almost gone.
"Look at Simona in Australia this year, she had match points down, and she won, and she was in the finals. You need these matches, maybe, for winning the big tournaments."
While she may be most comfortable on clay, Sevastova has enjoyed impressive results on all surfaces this season, reaching the Brisbane International semifinals on hardcourts, and the Mallorca Open final on grass (where she was defending champion).
"I always believed I could play on every surface. For sure, I’ve improved significantly in the last years on changing the surfaces. Before my retirement, I didn’t play good on hard, my best surface was clay because I grew up on clay. Now, with playing a lot on hard, that has improved. On grass, I think maybe serve is better, return is better, you just feel better."
After strong performances in Mallorca and Bucharest, she aims to replicate that form at the US Open, her favorite major where she's made back-to-back quarterfinal appearances.
"First I’m flying to Moscow. I feel okay, seeing this week through. Then it’s hardcourts, Montréal and Cincinnati, and then it’s US Open. My favorite tournament! Maybe my third favorite. I have like three, I have Mallorca, Bucharest, US Open."