WTA Tour wrap: Barty wins third title of the year to lead tally as Cirstea claims second title at long last

ASH Barty topped off her birthday weekend by adding a third WTA Tour singles trophy to her collection, battling hard for a third come-from-behind victory this week to take out the Stuttgart title. At Istanbul, Romanian Sorana Cirstea broke her drought with a second career WTA Tour title and her first in over 10 years, taking out her third top 20 win for the year in the process.

World number one Barty did not quite look like herself in the early stages of her matchup with fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka, dropping the first set 3-6 before fighting back to command control in the second and ride that momentum home in the third, claiming the 3-6 6-0 6-3 victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

An uncharacteristically error-ridden first set from Barty saw Sabalenka steal the early ascendancy, winning 81 per cent of her first serve points in the first set whilst Barty won just 66.7 per cent despite being more effective on serve at 72.7 per cent.

“Tennis is a strange sport at times,” Barty said post-match. “Even though you can be a set down, I didn’t feel I was very far off. I had a couple of break points and opportunities myself, you take one or two of those and it’s a completely different ball game.”

But after the first Barty came out flying, hitting two aces for zero double faults as she coasted to a 6-0 second set win in just 20 minutes, winning off a whopping 91 per cent of her first serve points and converting three break points to head to the decider.

“I think it’s important to just continue to work in the right direction, try to do right things and know that over time you hopefully get the result, and if you don’t, you just keep going for the next time, and I think that’s a massively important attitude to have.”

Whilst Sabalenka fought much better in the third to come from 3-0 down to challenge at 3-2, Barty had the upper hand and did not relinquish it, finishing out the match in much better form to take out her second clay trophy and 11th singles title overall.

“This week’s been phenomenal for me,” Barty said. “We’ve played a lot of tennis, a lot of matches.

“And I’ve certainly felt like I’m taking my tennis to kind of a new level, in a sense of being able to be calm and play with freedom and play without consequence in a way, just going out there and try to bring my best every single point.”

To make things even better for the now-25-year-old, Barty fired on all cylinders later that day to claim the doubles title in Stuttgart too alongside American Jennifer Brady, with the duo upsetting top seeded doubles duo Desirae Krawczyk and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

For Cirstea, it was a drought-breaking victory as she claimed her first singles title since her maiden 2008 title at Tashkent, defeating top seed Elise Mertens in straight sets 6-1 7-6(3), in one hour and 40 minutes. An excellent start was all it took for for Cirstea to take the upper hand, sweeping Mertens under the rug with 6-1 start and forcing 16 unforced errors from Mertens who hit just the three winners in the first.

The second set was far better from Mertens, who drew out a 5-3 lead before a huge comeback effort saw Cirstea regain momentum and win the 7-6(3) tiebreaker, claiming the victory in the process. Overall, Cirstea hit one ace for zero double faults compared to Mertens’ one and six, as the Romanian won 54.5 per cent of points off her first serve off a 65.7 per cent clip, whilst a solid 69.6 per cent winning rate off her second serve compared to Mertens’ 39.3 per cent.

“I’m very, very happy for this trophy,” Cirstea said during the trophy ceremony. “I did not expect it, to be honest, so probably I’m twice as glad!”

The Romanian jumps nine ranks on the world rankings from 67th to 58th in the world in the process.

PORSCHE TENNIS GRAND PRIX SEMI-FINALS RESULTS:

[1] Ash Barty (AUS) defeated [5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) 3-6 6-0 6-3

TEB BNP PARIBAS TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIP ISTANBUL SEMI-FINAL RESULTS:

[3] Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated [1] Elise Mertens (BEL) 6-1 7-6

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