Ekaterina Alexandrova clinched the Libema Open women's singles title after beating top seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 6-0 in the final, here on Sunday.The 25-year-old Alexandrova came into 's-Hertogenbosch amid a strong 2022 campaign.
Her win over Sabalenka was her second top 10 win of the season and her 20th victory of the year. She leaves The Netherlands with her first grass title, first title since winning 2017 Shenzhen, and a strong 20-11 record on the year.
Alexandrova lost just one set en route to her first final of the season. She tallied wins over Dayana Yastremska, Anhelina Kalinina, Caty McNally, and Veronika Kudermetova. She lost a total of just five games in her last two matches heading into Sunday's showdown.
The confidence proved crucial for Alexandrova, who manufactured her comeback to run away with the title. Sabalenka began the final well, building a 4-2 lead after breaking Alexandrova in the longest game of the match. But Sabalenka would win just one more game.
Alexandrova broke back immediately to 4-3 and faced just one break point for the remainder of the match.As Alexandrova began to roll through her service games, Sabalenka's groundstrokes buckled. Alexandrova hit just three more winners than Sabalenka in the match, 16 versus 13.
But she also kept a clean sheet, hitting 18 unforced errors to 31 for Sabalenka."Grass is a difficult surface for everyone because the bounce is unpredictable.You just need to try to do your best in every single shot because you don't know what's going to come next," said Alexandrova.
"When I played the first match here, I would never expect to play finals here and win the title. It was so bad, I couldn't hit anything inside the court. But match after match, it was easier to find the rhythm and find the game. In the last match, I found it, and I just tried to keep it during the whole match," she added.
World No 6 Sabalenka was contesting her second final of the last two months. A finalist at 2018 Eastbourne and semifinalist at Wimbledon last summer, Sabalenka is still looking for her first grass-court title and first title of the season.