KUALA LUMPUR: A tireless Elina Svitolina clinched the BMW Malaysian Open title to make it four WTA Tour title for the Ukrainian.
The world No. 19 overcame difficult circumstances – being a set down and rain interruption – before beating Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 7-5 in the final at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) on Sunday.
It was the 22-year-old Bouchard who started stronger as she took the first set through a tiebreak.
Bouchard then kept up the pressure in the second set, breaking Svitolina twice to take a 4-2 lead.
But the Ukrainian stepped up when it mattered, breaking Bouchard’s serve in quick succession to take the set 6-4 and force a deciding rubber.
And Svitolina again got it right at the crucial moments as she broke Bouchard to tie it 5-5 in the third, before sealing the win after two hours and 53 minutes of play.
Despite concluding the match at 12.05am – six hours after it started, the 21-year-old Svitolina was still full of energy.
“I don’t really remember much of the earlier part of the match ... we stopped play quite a few times due to the rain. I just know that I’m over the moon right now,” said Svitolina.
“But it was definitely a long day. Eugenie played well in the first set and I was a bit disappointed at losing that.
“I think I did well to come back to win the second set and I played strong from there.
“At 5-4 down in the third, many would have thought that it’s over for me. But I guess I just like to serve up some surprises.
“For me now my goal hasn’t changed ... I’m still hoping to climb the rankings and continue to do well.”
The win means Svitolina has won all four meetings against Bouchard.
She is also unbeaten in her four WTA finals thus far.
World No. 52 Bouchard, who needed medical assistance during the second set, admitted she struggled with concussion-like symptoms.
“I felt concussion-like symptoms and I was struggling with my energy levels towards the end,” said Bouchard who suffered a head injury at the US Open last year.
“The medical staff also strongly advised me not to continue during the second set but there was no way I was going to retire in a final.
“I think I gave it my all and I fought well. Now I just need to go on to my next tournament and do well there.”
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