LINZ, Austria -- After six years, Barbora Strycova finally has a second WTA singles title to her name.
The Czech No.2 seed raced past No.1 seed Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-1, to claim the Upper Austria Ladies Linz title on Sunday. Strycova enters the winner's circle for the first time since 2011, when she was victorious at the Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec City.
"I’m very happy, it’s the second title of my career, it’s sweet, it feels nice," exclaimed Strycova during her post-match press conference. "Maybe the thoughts will come to me a little bit more tomorrow, but I feel relief, I feel very tired, but I feel very happy."
Strycova came into the match with a 4-1 lead in their head-to-head, including victories in their last three encounters. It was more of the same in this championship match, as Strycova used all of her guile and volleying prowess to complete the match in one hour and 27 minutes.
"I know that we’ve had huge matches against each other, especially the one three weeks ago in Tokyo," Strycova continued. "I knew it would be a hard one, because we have a little bit tricky, similar games. We serve and volley, we go a lot to the net. But I felt like I handled the game on the same level, and some times I stepped it up a little bit."
From the start of the match, the combatants, both of whom are extremely comfortable on grass and other fast surfaces, clearly telegraphed their intentions to come to the net often. But it was Strycova who was the stronger player throughout, winning 82 percent of her first serve points, and facing just a single break point.
Strycova immediately picked up the crucial break in the first game of the match. The Czech knocked off a backhand volley to set up the break point, which she converted after Rybarikova pushed a groundstroke wide.
There were no additional breaks in the first set, and Strycova took the first set 6-4 with a backhand pass down the line while both players were at net. The Czech won an incredible 21 of her 24 first serve points in the first set -- although she was 0-for-8 on her second serve.
Both players were exceptional on serve in the opener -- the break point Strycova converted in the first game was the only one of the set for either player. Unfortunately for Rybarikova, her steeliness on serve was never rewarded, as Strycova was excellent at the line in the first set, and could not be broken.
There was no respite for Rybarikova in the second set, as Strycova was impenetrable while she raced to a 5-0 lead. Even when Rybarikova won a grueling rally after hitting a miraculous behind-the-back shot to keep the point alive at 1-0, she could not make a dent throughout most of the set.
Strycova threw Rybarikova a lifeline when serving for the match at 5-0 in the second, as impatient play gave the Slovak her first break point of the match, which was duly converted to avert the bagel. But it was not enough to start a comeback, and Strycova broke again in the very next game to complete her victory.