Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Oct 16 (IANS) In her first tour-level final, World No 138 Anna Blinkova outlasted 74th-ranked Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 to clinch the Transylvania Open title, here on Sunday.
Blinkova needed 1 hour and 41 minutes to prevail and hoist her first WTA singles championship trophy. She becomes the fifth qualifier to win a singles title on the WTA Tour this season, joining Tatjana Maria (Bogota), Anastasia Potapova (Istanbul), Bernarda Pera (Budapest) and Caroline Garcia (Cincinnati).
Moreover, the 24-year-old Blinkova is projected to return to the Top 100 for the first time since last September. Her career-high ranking is World No 54, achieved in February of 2020.
Blinkova and Paolini had a 2-2 head-to-head coming into the final, but Paolini had taken recent control of their meetings, winning their last two matches with the loss of just seven games combined.
However, Blinkova reclaimed the momentum in their rivalry on Sunday. Her aggressive play led to 35 winners, outpacing Paolini’s 23. Additionally, Blinkova only had two more unforced errors than Paolini (22 to 20) and she converted six of her 10 break points on the day.
The power play from Blinkova very nearly garnered her a straight-sets win, as she blasted her way to a set-and-a-break lead at 6-2, 3-2. But two double faults at the end of that game allowed Paolini to claw back on serve.
Paolini seized that opportunity, finding a bevy of sterling forehand winners down the stretch of that set. She reeled off four straight games and swiped the second set. But Blinkova rebounded in the decider, taking charge with bold play in the forecourt and sturdy returns to knock off the final four games of the clash and collect her breakthrough title.