Ruse claims maiden WTA title with Hamburg European Open victory - GulfToday

Ruse claims maiden WTA title with Hamburg European Open victory

Elena-Gabriela Ruse

Elena-Gabriela Ruse celebrates with the trophy after winning the Hamburg European Open final match against Andrea Petkovic in Hamburg on Sunday. Reuters

Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse won her first title Sunday with a 7-6 (6), 6-4 victory over Andrea Petkovic in the Hamburg European Open final.

The 23-year-old Ruse is the lowest-ranked WTA winner at No. 198 since No. 299 Margarita Gasparyan won in Tashkent in 2018.

Ruse saved two set points in the first set and came back from trailing 3-0 in the second to beat Petkovic in 2 hours, 12 minutes.

“I felt really good today on the court,” Ruse said. “I would like to thank my coach very much. I’m such a crazy player, it’s not easy to work with me.”

World No.198 Ruse saved two set points in the first set and overturned a 0-3 double-break deficit in the second to beat Petkovic in 2 hours, 12 minutes to become the lowest-ranked WTA titlist since World No.299 Margarita Gasparyan won Tashkent 2018.

The Romanian is the third qualifier to win a WTA tournament this season, following Clara Tauson in Lyon and Liudmila Samsonova in Berlin, and the 11th first-time titlist.

After an early exchange of breaks, a tightly contested first set would be decided by the slimmest of margins as neither player conceded ground on serve. Ruse was the more creative and aggressive player in rallies, scoring 34 winners to Petkovic’s 13 overall, but Petkovic repeatedly came up with big first serves to keep her side of the scoreboard ticking along.

The German World No.130 was in her first WTA final since winning Antwerp 2015 and seeking her seventh career title, and first on home soil having previously lost the 2013 Nurnberg final to Simona Halep. She held two set points - once at 6-5, and then again in the tiebreak. However, her forehand faltered on both occasions, as reported by WTA.

Ruse would ultimately seal the set in controversial fashion. Up set point, she sent a forehand fizzing down the line, which was initially called out. Petkovic had barely managed to lay a racquet on it, and umpire Thomas Sweeney overruled the call and awarded the point and first set to Ruse - much to the home player’s displeasure.

To Petkovic’s credit, she rebounded in stellar fashion, coming up with some of her best returns of the day to move up a 3-0 double break in the second set. But one of the hallmarks of Ruse’s victory was her boldness under scoreboard pressure.

Ruse’s form in the home stretch was simply dazzling: two breathtaking crosscourt forehands gained her the first break back as she reeled off four games in a row, and six of the last seven.

Her composure was also impressive. At 4-3, Ruse continued to strike winner after winner to threaten the Petkovic serve, and held a total of five break points. But the 33-year-old somehow escaped that game after Ruse ballooned a putaway wide on her fifth break point.

Ruse was undeterred. A pair of backhand winners down the line saw her fend off a break point against her in the next game. Then, with Petkovic serving at 40-0 to level the set at 5-5, Ruse raised her level again to rattle off five straight points for the title, finishing appropriately with yet another backhand winner.


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