Fri, 31 Mar 2023

Hua Hin [Thailand], February 5 (ANI): Zhu Lin's fantastic start to 2023 continued at the Thailand Open, where the 29-year-old claimed her maiden WTA Tour title with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Lesia Tsurenko in the final on Sunday.

Zhu Lin edged out Lesia Tsurenko in two tight sets to capture her first WTA Tour title at the Thailand Open in a match that lasted for one hour and 45 minutes final.

Zhu gave notice of her improved form by winning matches against Maria Sakkari and Venus Williams en route to the Auckland quarterfinals and the fourth round of the Australian Open last month. The former World No. 1 projected Zhu might one day be a player in the Top 20 after she forced Victoria Azarenka to a third set in the Melbourne semifinals.

Zhu had previously won one WTA 125 title, at Seoul 2021, but prior to this week had only made two semifinals at the main tour level, at Kuala Lumpur 2016 and Nanchang 2018.

The two players combined for 14 serves breaks during the match, with eight for Zhu and six for Tsurenko. The final was tensely close for a large portion of the match. The Ukrainian, who was playing in her sixth WTA final compared to Zhu's debut, found her range more quickly. In the first game, Tsurenko broke and held two points for a double break of 3-0.

But Zhu managed to claw her way back into the match after claiming two close multi-deuce games, and she eventually grabbed control at the end of the first set and the beginning of the second with more daring and inventive shotmaking. Zhu outperformed Tsurenko by a margin of 22 wins to 9, including a fizzing forehand down the line to end the opening set and a backhand crosscourt to break for 3-1 in the second.

As the final came to an end with a run of seven straight breaks, the final moments became a more tense affair. The rallies grew longer as both players opted for a cautious strategy. Although Zhu was unable to maintain her break advantage, she always bounced back with strong performance on the return. She was serving for the championship at 5-3 when she narrowly missed a forehand on the opening championship point.

In the subsequent game, Zhu won all three of her points cleanly, including a backhand drive volley on her third championship point, to defeat Tsurenko and win the match. (ANI)

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