French top seed Caroline Garcia came from a set down to defeat second seed Donna Vekic 2-6 7-6(4) 7-6(4) and clinch the WTA International singles title at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham – an LTA summer grass court event.
The World No. 28, who has now won two of her seven WTA singles titles on grass, had a slow start in the opening set as Vekic raced to a 4-0 lead at the Nottingham Tennis Centre, including a run of 13 unanswered points as the Croatian made just two unforced errors.
But the second set was a much tighter contest, with the pair exchanging a couple of service breaks before Garcia edged the tie-break. Neither player forced a break point in the deciding set, and the 25-year-old held her nerve in the tie-break again to win her first title of the year.
It was also the third consecutive match in which the 2016 Roland Garros doubles champion dropped the first set before emerging victorious – including her rain-affected Saturday semi-final that was concluded on Sunday morning.
“It was very difficult,” Garcia said. “For me the first set was tough. I had difficulty coming back from the match this morning. There were difficult conditions, very windy, and Donna was ready from the beginning. She just played better than me in the first set.
“And then in the second set, I just wanted to give it everything I had, even if what I had was not the best. I really wanted to fight. I didn’t know whether I was going to win or not, because there was a very long way to go, but I just kept trying and trying to enjoy it, to play my game, to go forward. That’s the only way I can learn. I went all the way in two tie-breaks and it was very tough, but it started because I had a good mindset from the second set.”
Garcia, who was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world last year in singles, added: “I think the crowd was pretty amazing today and I hope they really enjoyed it, because they didn’t have the chance to see a lot of tennis throughout the week.
“For sure, for us [players] it was difficult, but for the tournament and all the sponsors and fans, it was even more difficult. I enjoyed what I could, and I think we got lucky to have the indoors facilities. Everyone from the tournament did a great job, and I’ve definitely enjoyed my stay in Nottingham.”
Earlier in the day, in the women’s doubles event, Giuliana Olmos became the first ever Mexican woman to win a WTA title, beating Australian pair Ellen Perez and Arina Rodionova with her partner Desirae Krawczyk of the USA 7-6(5) 7-5.
And in the ATP Challenger doubles, Santiago Gonzalez – also of Mexico – and his Pakistani partner Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi won their second title together, winning 4-6 6-1 10-7 in a Championship tie-break.
British No. 3 Dan Evans has won his second consecutive grass court title on home soil, beating Russian thirteenth seed Evgeny Donskoy 7-6(3) 6-3 to clinch the ATP Challenger singles title and lift the Paul Hutchins Trophy.
The Birmingham-born home favourite took to Centre Court on Sunday evening after winning his semi-final earlier in the day, with the week-long rain disruption pushing the final rounds of the men’s schedule into the last day.
Having reached the final two at the Nature Valley Open last year, top seed Evans continued his fine form this summer despite the tough conditions, defeating both of his Sunday opponents in straight sets to secure his eighth Challenger title after success at the LTA’s Surbiton Trophy last week.
“It’s been a good week, carrying on strongly from last week,” the 29-year-old said. “I played very well in the first match
The second match, I was a bit frustrated and I was very tired. But I didn’t lose a set today, so I can’t be too unhappy. I played well out there, despite the wind.”
The World No. 70, who had never won a title on grass before last week, became only the third player to win multiple grass court Challenger titles in the same year since 2000 – following Daniele Bracciali (2005) and Yen-Hsun Lu (2016) – after he converted his second match point to make it 10 wins in a row.
And with the men’s singles trophy being named in honour of Britain’s longest serving Davis Cup Captain and former Head of Men’s and Women’s Tennis, the crown is an extra special one for Evans.
“It’s amazing to be the first winner of the Paul Hutchins Trophy – he was a massive part of me growing up. He was here last year and it feels a bit empty without him this year. It was really good to win, and hopefully he watched down on that,” Evans said at the Nottingham Tennis Centre, where Hutchins was also Tournament Director of the Nottingham Open.
“I’ve had a lot to do with Paul. Obviously I know his son Ross, so I’m proud to be the first winner of his trophy, and I’m sure Paul would be pretty happy that I was the first winner of his trophy, because he really enjoyed the way I played. He always encouraged me to keep working hard, so it’s great to win it. Hopefully everyone in the Hutchins family is happy that I won it.”