The heavily rain-affected Nottingham Open finally had a winner today, after the final went the way of the teenager Ana Konjuh in three-sets. She eventually overcame another surprise finalist, Monica Niculescu 1-6 6-4 6-2 to lift the inaugural Elena Baltacha Trophy. The final was put back to Monday, after a congested schedule over the weekend had resulted in Konjuh playing two matches on Sunday.
Still just 17-years-old, Konjuh looks to have a bright future ahead of her judging by her performances during the tournament in Nottingham. She is building on a successful junior career that saw her become the world number one in 2013, the year she took the junior singles titles at the Australian Open and US Open.
Two matches in a day
Already ranked 87th in the world, the Croatian prodigy had a busy weekend. Her quarter-final tie against Sachia Vickery had been held over from Saturday, but she had few problems in breezing past the American 6-2 6-2.
Next up was a far tougher proposition on paper in the semi-final, as she faced the fifth seed Alison Riske. It proved to be a closer contest than her previous round, but the Croatian maintained her standard of not losing a set up to that point in the event. The blemish-free record was achieved with a 6-4 6-3 success over her American opponent.
In the other half of the draw, there was a major surprise when the top seed from Poland, Agnieszka Radwanska was toppled by the Romanian Niculescu in the last-four. It has not been a great start to the season for the Polish player so far in 2015, who has slipped back to world number 13 as a result (she was as high as number two in 2012). This was another bitter blow to her confidence one suspects, after being defeated 5-7 6-4 6-0 by the world number 61 player.
The semi-final results did at least clear the way for an intriguing final in Nottingham, as the 27-year-old Romanian with two WTA titles to her name, took on the youngster who was playing her first WTA tour final.
Bad start for Konjuh
It seemed that either the greater experience of her opponent or the sheer exertion of her Sunday matches were affecting Konjuh early on in the final. She lost the first set in rapid time after Niculescu had stormed into a 5-0 lead.
Konjuh fought back admirably though to take the next two sets and with it the title, 1-6 6-4 6-2. A clearly delighted winner said afterwards that her family and friends were already celebrating the victory, stating that "they're drinking champagne."
Dedication to 'Bally'
The Nottingham event decided to introduce a new trophy in memory of the former British number one female player, Baltacha this year, and Konjuh had the honour of being the first lady to hold it aloft. Baltacha tragically died of cancer at the tender age of just 30-years-old, only last year. #Tennis #Youth