HUA HIN, Thailand — Rising Russian star Diana Shnaider bounced back from a turbulent second set to upend defending champion Zhu Lin of China 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 for her maiden title at the WTA Thailand Open on Sunday.
The No. 108-ranked North Carolina State University student displayed a fierce and solid baseline game to unsettle her No. 45-ranked opponent, prevailing in a competitive contest lasting one hour and 59 minutes amid challenging, humid conditions at the beach resort.
Facing a brief setback as Zhu fought back from 1-4 to 3-4, Shnaider regained control by unleashing deep flat strokes, managing to break back to lead 5-3 before comfortably securing the first set.
In the second, Zhu mounted a comeback, winning four consecutive games from 2-2, to force a decisive third set. The Chinese player capitalized on uncharacteristic errors from her opponent to set the stage for a thrilling conclusion.
Following a toilet break, Shnaider returned to the court with renewed intensity. As Zhu struggled to maintain focus, Shnaider seized the opportunity to break her opponent three times to clinch the decisive set and claim her first WTA title.
It was Shnaider’s second WTA final appearance, having previously lost to Ons Jabeur in Ningbo, China last September.
“I feel like I won a Grand Slam. I’m not lying guys. This win will stay in my memory for a long time,” Shnaider said.
“The last two points were crazy. I kept doing everything that I could. I’m so proud of myself. I was running as fast as I could for every ball,” said the lefthander.
In the doubles final, Miyu Kato of Japan and Aldila Sutjiadi of Indonesia secured their third title as a pair by defeating the Chinese duo of Hanyu Guo and Xinyu Jiang 6-4, 1-6, 10-7. Their previous victories came in Auckland and Cleveland in 2023. ___
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis