Sabalenka secures final WTA Title of the season in Linz

Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus is the champion of the 30th anniversary edition of the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. The top seed of the WTA International Event defeated her long-time doubles partner and No. 2 seed Elise Mertens from Belgium 7-5, 6-2 in Sunday’s singles final.

Sabalenka sealed an even opening set following a powerful forehand on break point in the 12th game after 69 minutes. The 22-year-old Minsk native broke her opponent’s serve again at the beginning of the second set and from then on didn’t look back to secure victory in one hour and 42 minutes.

“The first set was really tricky with a lot of ups and downs,” Sabalenka said after her fourth win over Mertens in the pair’s sixth tour meeting. “She was fighting for every point and it was real pressure for both of us. It was a tough set and I’m really happy that I could handle it. I felt more relaxed in the second set.”

Sabalenka has finished her season on a nine-match winning streak. By lifting her eighth WTA Tour career trophy, her third of the season following her triumphs in Doha and Ostrava, the World No. 11 took away from Austria $20,161 in prize money as well as 280 WTA Ranking points. She ties Simona Halep for most titles won this season and will finish 2020 in the Top 10.

Asked about her plans for the upcoming weeks, Sabalenka said: “I will go back home and spend time with my family. That’s the best rest for me.”

Mertens cracks Top 20

Mertens, who was seeking her first title since the 2019 Qatar Total Open, pocketed $11,290 in prize money as well as 180 WTA Ranking points.

“The first set was really tight. She is a very powerful player, so it was difficult to get in a neutral position. That made the difference. She served really well in the second set and dominated the points,” Mertens analysed the final. “I had a lot of tough matches this week and in the second set I felt that I wasn’t coming 100 per cent after the ball anymore but I tried until the end.”

Mertens, who enjoyed her stay in Linz, will finish the season inside the Top 20.

“I really liked it here. Players were treated very well. I felt safe during the whole time. I would definitely like to come back. To return to the Top 20 was one of the goals I set myself for this week. I am very happy about that.”

Rus/Zidansek win doubles title

Earlier in the day, Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands and Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia clinched their second team title of the season after winning on clay in Palermo. The No. 4 seeds defeated the tournament’s No. 1 duo of Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova from the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4. The doubles final lasted 64 minutes.