(Reuters) – Top seed Elina Svitolina prevailed in a three-hour thriller against Marie Bouzkova 7-5 4-6 6-4 to seize her first title of the season at the Monterrey Open in Mexico on Sunday.
In a battle of perseverance, Bouzkova had seven break point chances in the marathon opening game, finally converting on the seventh, which set the tone for the long battle ahead.
Svitolina would have to win five breaks of her own over the duration of the match to end a title drought of more than a year.
“It was an amazing battle,” Ukraine’s Svitolina said at the trophy presentation. “Marie was fighting great, and I think it was a very high-level match. We’ve both been playing good, we were fighting, and there were no easy games. I think the people really pushed us to play our best, and it was amazing to get the support from the Mexican people.”
Czech No. 9 seed Bouzkova showed no sign of relenting after dropping the opening set. With the second set knotted at 3-3, Bouzkova took advantage of a pair of Svitolina miscues to break, before holding serve to take a commanding 5-3 lead, and going on to level the match a set apiece.
Svitolina stormed back in the final set and appeared to be cruising when she moved ahead 4-1. With Svitolina serving for the title at 5-2, Bouzkova made a late charge to break the leader and pull back on serve at 5-4.
Bouzkova was unable to hold on to her momentum, and Svitolina garnered two match points. Ultimately, Svitolina’s forehand drop shot forced an error that clinched the title.
For the match, Svitolina recorded six aces and won nearly three-quarters of points on her first serve.
“It feels amazing,” Svitolina said. “It’s another step towards my goals, and I’m moving in the right direction. I’m happy that it’s going the right way.”
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Simon Cameron-Moore)