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Yastremska overpowers Wang to win Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open 2018


Yastremska overpowers Wang to win Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open 2018

A star is born. Eighteen-year-old fearless phenom Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine produces a magical performance, hitting stunning winners repeatedly to dominate world No. 24 Wang Qiang, 6-2, 6-1, to capture her maiden WTA title. Meanwhile, the doubles crown went to the Sino-Australian duo of Zhang Shuai and Sam Stosur.

First up on Centre Court, Australia’s Sam Stosur and China’s Zhang Shuai are facing No. 4 seed Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Lidziya Marozava of Belarus in the women’s doubles final.  In the early going, Stosur is dictating play in the forecourt, making timely intercepts and overhead smashes.  However, there were no breaks of serve until the seventh game when Marozava drills a backhand crosscourt pass a stranded Stosur at the net to break for a 4-3 lead.  The Aussie made amends quickly and hits a winning volley at the top of the net to break back for 4-4 and proceeded to hold at love to lead again, 5-4.  Stosur and Zhang are now on the ascendancy, breaking Marozava to love to grab the opening set, 6-4.

Another strong hold by Zhang to start the second set.  This is the fourth straight game won by the Aussie-Chinese duo since trailing 4-3 in the first.  Servers then dominated the rest of the way until the ninth game when Stosur was taken to deuce, but she produced a brilliant forehand down the line pass to hold for 5-4.  The highly-motivated Aussie-Chinese duo waste no time and breaks Marozava to love to capture the set and the match, 6-4, 6-4, to lift their first title as a tandem.

Stosur, of course, is no stranger to doubles.  She found early success in doubles before switching focus to singles later on in her career.   She is a former No. 1-ranked doubles player.  In terms of Grand Slam success, she won the US Open in 2005, French Open in 2006, and was runner-up at Australian Open in 2006, and runner-up at Wimbledon in 2008, 2009, and 2011.  She has also won 3 mixed doubles titles, one at the Australian Open and two at Wimbledon.  She is also a two-time winner of the year-end WTA Finals.  In all, she has won a total of 24 doubles titles on the WTA Tour and 11 more on the ITF Pro Circuit in her career.  Her accolades include WTA Doubles Team of the Year in 2005 and 2006, plus ITF Women’s Doubles World Champion in 2005 and 2006.

Zhang Shuai is currently ranked No. 39 in the world in doubles. Her highlights this year include winning at Istanbul and Hiroshima. In all, she has won 6 WTA and 10 ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles in her career. As a tandem, Stosur and Zhang were finalists at Osaka in 2013 and semifinalists at this year’s US Open.

Aoyama from Japan is currently ranked No. 46 in the world. She has won 8 WTA and 24 ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles in her career. Her highlights this season include quarterfinals at Brisbane and Washington, last 16 at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami. She has finished with a year-end top 50 ranking in four of the past five seasons and reaching a career-high No. 27 earlier this year. Together with Makoto Ninomiya, she was also a semifinalist here in 2016.

Marozava from Belarus is currently ranked No. 38 in the world. She has won 1 WTA and 19 ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles in her career. Her highlights this year include reaching the final at Prague, semifinals at Stuttgart, Den Bosch, Mallorca, Nurnberg, and quarterfinals at Budapest, Bucharest and Hiroshima. She finished with a year-end top 50 ranking for the first time at the end of last season and reaching a career-high No. 37 earlier this month. As a team, they reached the semifinals at Hiroshima and Wuhan, as well as the quarterfinals at Montreal earlier this year.

In the fifth Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open final, Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine started where she left off yesterday and drills a forehand down the line winner to commence the final against No. 6 seed Wang Qiang, the current Chinese No. 1. The teenager has served exceptionally well all week and nails a service winner to register a love game, 1-0. Excellent recovery from Wang, as she overcomes a 15-40 deficit win an ace to hold for 1-1. A second serve ace from Wang at 40-0 nets her another confident hold, 2-2. Yastremska rips another forehand return serve winner to bring up break point. She seals the break of serve after forcing Wang to hit long, 4-2. Yastremska has no problem finding flowing winners off either wing and thumps an ace down the tee to hold for 5-2. Wang is being given the run-around at the moment and chasing shadows. A forehand drive volley from the teenager catches the net and drops over to earn her a break point. She duly whacks a double-fisted down the line return winner off a Wang second serve to break for the set, 6-2.

Relentlessly going for the lines, Yastremska saves three break points and sends down a service winner out wide to hold for 1-0. Probably feeling a tad fatigued, Wang is nonetheless facing a daring teenager who shows no remorse for painting the lines, as she drills another forehand down the line winner to break for 2-0. The barrage of impressive winners continues, as the 18-year-old conjures another backhand up the line to hold for 3-0. Although Wang manages to save two break points to force deuce, it was not nearly enough to stop Yastremska from nailing consecutive winners to break again for 4-0. Wang capitalizes on her second break point chance in this game and breaks the Ukraine to get on the board, 4-1. In the ensuing game, Wang double faults to fall behind 30-40 and sees another sledgehammer forehand zip by her to trail 5-1. After saving four break points and squandering three match points in a drama-filled sixth game, Yastremska belts another first serve winner out wide to win in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1.

Several categories of statistics were telling. Wang managed to win just 19% in 2nd Serve Points Won, compared to 58% for Yastremska. Wang converted only 1 of 9 break points opportunities, while the teenager scored 5 of 9. Yastremska also registered 61% (63/103) of Total Points Won and of those 63 points, she hit 33 of them for outright winners in what turned out to be a one-sided final.

Wang herself is in the form of her life, going 20-3 following the US Open, won her second career title at Guangzhou and reaching the semis at Wuhan and Beijing, while beating the likes of Jelena Ostapenko and Karolina Pliskova (twice) along the way. Perhaps a bit jaded both physically and mentally following a three-set battle against Garbine Muguruza the night before, Wang, nonetheless, was facing a fearless phenom in Dayana Yastremska who produced a magical performance, hitting stunning winners repeatedly to dominate the world No. 24 to capture her maiden WTA title.

Win the win, Yastremska should enter into the WTA top 70 when the rankings are released next week. She is also presented with a winner’s cheque for US$163,265, her biggest pay day in her fledgling career. For now, a flight awaits her, as she heads to the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.

In her post-match press conference, Yastremska said: “Honestly, I don’t remember the last game. You try to visualize the way you would win the match, but I have to stay focused on the here and now. I woke up this morning I was so nervous, I couldn’t eat at all. But I told myself I can win this, and I felt a lot better once play started because I just focused point by point. I’m not going to celebrate now because I have a tournament in Luxembourg. It’s great to win my first tournament here but I want to keep going and win as many matches and as many tournaments as possible, and hopefully one day win a Grand Slam.”

Wang Qiang in her post-match press conference: “I think I’m a bit tired after the last two months, but she played really well. She was very aggressive, not making many mistakes, and she served and returned very well, so it was tough to play against her today. I played well all week and I enjoyed my time here. Hopefully, I can play better next time.”

The 18-year-old Yastremska, first player born in the 2000s to crack the WTA top 100, in her victory speech: “You’re[Wang] a great player and it was wonderful to play you here. I wish you all the best and we will play many more times in the future. I want to thank my mother and my coach, who’s here all week supporting me no matter what. Thanks to all the sponsors, you made such a great tournament. It’s my first time here and I didn’t expect it to be this wonderful. To the fans, all the week you’ve been supporting me and I’m so grateful to you. I will be back next year for sure!”

A star is born. Remember the name: Dayana Yastremska.

Roll of Honour

2018Dayana YastremskaSamantha Stosur/Zhang Shuai
2017Anastasia PavlyuchenkovaLatisha Chan/Chan Hao-Ching
2016Caroline WozniackiLatisha Chan/Chan Hao-Ching
2015Jelena JankovicAlize Cornet/Yaroslava Shvedova
2014Sabine LisickiKarolina Pliskova/Kristyna Pliskova