18-year-old Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine has come back from 5-2 down in the deciding set to snatch the championship trophy from the hands of Australia’s Ajla Tomljaovic. She won in a three-set showdown 6-2 2-6 7-6(3).
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Photo: Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska hits a retun against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic during the final of the WTA Thailand Open tennis tournament in Hua Hin on February 3, 2019. (Photo CHALINEE THIRASUPA/AFP/Getty Images)
Yastremska started strong, breaking in the second game. Tomljanovic had a chance to break back in the next game, but she sent the ball into the net on break point. Yastremska brought out a great number of winners to gain a 5-0 lead. Tomljanovic won her first game of the match in the sixth game and then broke in the next when Yastremska was trying to serve out the match, but the Ukrainian then broke Tomljanovic again in the eighth game to win the set.
Tomljanovic had a break point in the first game of the second set, and she almost got the break when a second serve from Yastremska was called out. But the Ukrainian challenged the call successfully, and then Tomljanovic returned the next serve long, preventing her from converting the break point. Yastremska went on to hold.
Tomljanovic held to love and then have another two chances to break in the third game, bringing up a double break point with a forehand winner. Yastremska gifted her the break with a double fault. The Ukrainian then broke back immediately to level the score at 2-2.
Another double fault by Yastremska brought up two break points for Tomljanovic, she couldn’t convert the first as she didn’t return the serve, but Yastremska doubled faulted to once again gift the Australian the break. Tomljanovic continued to win all the next games to win the second set and take the match to the distance.
Yastremska got an early lead in the third set, breaking in the second game to lead 2-0, but Tomljanovic found her form again to win the next five games, saving four break points along the way.
Tomljanovic attempted to serve out the match but did so unsuccessfully as she hit a ball into the net to give Yastremska a break point. This first break point was saved as Yastremska made the same error, but then two forehand winners by the Ukrainian kept her alive in the match. Yastremska then held her serve.
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Photo: Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic hits a return against Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska during the final of the WTA Thailand Open tennis tournament in Hua Hin on February 3, 2019. (Photo CHALINEE THIRASUPA/AFP/Getty Images)
During the change of ends between the ninth and tenth game, Yastremska called a trainer for her left knee, which Tomljanovic wasn’t happy about, complaining to the umpire and shaking her head in frustration. The Australian had a second chance to serve for the championship, but once again could not do so, giving Yastremska the second break back with a double fault.
Both players held to love in the next two games, taking the match to a tiebreaker. Tomljanovic got the mini-break on the first point when Yastremska hit the ball into the net, but she couldn’t keep her lead as the Ukrainian got three championship points brought up when Tomljanovic hit a backhand into the net. Yastremska won the match with a forehand winner.
In her speech following the match, Yastremska said that she dedicates the win to her mother, who recently had an accident and underwent surgery. From this win, the young Ukrainian will jump 13 places to reach a career-high ranking of 34 in the world. Tomljanovic also has reached a career-high ranking of 41.
“The match was really tough for me,” Yastremska told the press. “The first set I played maximum, and the second set, I felt that I can’t play like that, like how I played the first set, and I didn’t know what’s going on. I tried my best, and I tried to do the same things I was doing in the first set, but it’s just feelings like you’re empty, completely empty. I don’t know how to describe that.”
“But in the third set, when I was losing 5-2, I remembered one thing, which happened before this tournament, and it really helped me to go through and take extra power, and finish with a win,” Yastremska continued. The youngster was referring to an accident her mother had with an exploding champagne bottle at the Australian Open, which left her eye injured.
“She did the operation in Australia and she [flew] back to Ukraine, and it was really tough for me to play because I didn’t sleep well for nights, because she had a long operation,” Yastremska admitted. “But now she’s good, and that extra motivated me to win.”