Canadian fast-riser Eugenie Bouchard captured her career-first singles title in Nurnberg, Germany on Saturday at the Nurnberger Versicherungscup, defeating unseeded Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the final.
“I still want to achieve more — more titles, bigger titles — so this is a step in the right direction,” said the ambitious Bouchard, the No. 2 seed at the event. She is only the second Canadian in the last 28 years to win a WTA title.
Bouchard improved to 1-1 in career finals, and Pliskova dropped to 1-2. The win leaves American Sloane Stephens as the only Top 20 player without a WTA title. Pliskova turned around the won the doubles title with Dutchwoman Michelle Krajicek.
Puerto Rican Monica Puig was another first-time champion on Saturday, in the Strasbourg title match beating Spanish qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-4, 6-3 at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.
“I played some of the greatest tennis I’ve ever played,” said the unseeded Puig. “I woke up this morning and I felt it. I felt I was going to do something amazing.” In the semifinals both players defeated unseeded Americans as Puig beat Madison Keys and Soler-Espinosa saved a match point to beat Christina McHale in three sets.
Prior to Strasbourg Puig had never been beyond a WTA quarterfinal, and entered the event ranked No. 56. Soler-Espinosa was also competing in her first WTA final. “She played really aggressive and served really well,” Soler-Espinosa said. “It was tough for me to compete against her.”
In Nice the “good” Ernests Gulbis emerged to claim his sixth title in six career finals, defeating Federico Delbonis 6-1, 7-6(5) for the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur crown.
“My next goal is to be Top 10, even Top 8,” said Gulbis after his first title on clay. “I think if I play well in the Grand Slams, I have a good chance. It’s tough to kick out somebody from the top as there are a lot of good players, but I am working on it.”
Gulbis also won earlier in the year at Marseille. Delbonis, the winner at Sao Paulo in February, dropped to 1-2 in career finals. “In the second set, I gave my best, it was more equal,” said Delbonis of the second-set breaker. “I had my chances, but couldn’t take them because he served well.”
German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber lived up to his top seeding and home turf defense at the Dusseldorf Open, in the final subduing giant-serving No. 7 seed “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic 6-2, 7-6(4) for his fifth career title.
“I play some of my best tennis in Germany, where I have great support,” said Kohlschreiber, who has now won four of his five career titles on home soil. “The crowd gave me extra motivation and helped me when I got nervous.”
Karlovic fell to 5-5 in career finals. “At the beginning he played unbelievably well,” said the big Croatian. “I was struggling a little bit with a back problem, so I couldn’t hit as hard as I normally do. But it was a good week. I didn’t expect five matches here, so I am very happy to have reached the final.”
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