Arantxa Rus won the WTA 250 Hamburg European Open after defeating Noma Noha Akugue in the Saturday's final. It's the maiden WTA title for the Dutch, who has won multiple ITF and Challenger tournaments in her career so far, including 5 events won in the year 2023 before.
Special stories written in Hamburg
Both the finalists participated in the final of WTA level tournament for the first time in their careers, but their stories are oppositely different. Noma Noha Akugue played in the main draw of WTA event for the first time in her short career so far, making a great use of the wild card received from the hosts of Hamburg European Open. Rus is a very successful player in the tournaments from a little lower tier, but the Dutch has never played in the title clash of WTA. Her today's appearance in final of Hamburg European Open was a record achievement, as no player in the history have approached her maiden WTA tournament's final later than Rus, who accomplished that in the age of 32.
The Friday's semifinals were also an opposite of each other in terms of the stories staying behind their participants. Noma Noha Akugue has played against Diana Shnaider in a clash of two 19 years-old youngsters, who both advanced into career's maiden semis of WTA tournament, after showing some great spirit over the week in Hamburg before. It was a one-sided match, dominated by the young German. Noha Akugue showed a comprehensive performance by advancing into final after just 80 minutes of play with a score 6-3 6-3. She showed a great composure during the key points, denying all the 6 breakpoints created by Shnaider throughout whole the match, which helped her to achieve the first big milestone in the career.
Arantxa Rus and Daria Saville are two much more experienced players than other semifinalists, and the experience resulted with a great show served for the fans during the Friday's three-setter, settled for the favour of the Dutch. Saville won the opening set quite comfortably, but Rus raised up her level since the start of second one and won the whole thing by 2-6 6-3 6-1. It was a really entertaining match with some really good rallies and winners performed by both the players. Despite losing in semis, it's a great week for Saville, who has seemingly found the groove back after a being out for a long time due to an injury.
The experience tops in the final
Saturday's final clash did not start as expected by the home fans of the young German. Arantxa Rus has clinched the opening set after just 25 minutes of play without losing a single game. It was an erratic start from a youngster, who was clearly feeling the pressure of playing for such a big stake for the first time in her career. Rus was playing her game well and got halfway ther after less than half an hour, but the second set was quite a different story. The German has started to play better, quite closer to the performance showed in previous rounds of the tournament. Rus lost the opening game within own serve, but managed to make up the gap during the set. The Dutch had two chances to finish the match in 10th game during Noha Akugue's service game, but the 19 years-old stayed alive in a match after defending two breakpoints and matchpoints at the same time. The settlement got just delayed into tiebreak though, as Rus dominated the tiebreak and crossed the finish line with a score 6-0 7-6(3).
The new Hamburg Open champion capitalizes on her career's maiden WTA title, achieving the new career's highest rank by moving up into 42th place in the WTA list. Rus becomes the world's top 50 player for the first time in her career, as her previous peak was a 60th spot, achieved as long time ago as in the year 2012. The runner-up gains a massive boost in the rankings, as Noha Akugue advanced by 65 spots for her new career's highest 142th place. Daria Saville celebrates the simillar advance, as the Australian starts her comeback into the top areas of the ranking by moving up from 225th to 163th place. Diana Shnaider does also convert her good run in Hamburg into a good ranking boost. The Russian comes back into top 100 of the rankings, also achieving her new career's peak by advancing into 86th spot.