(Reuters) – Svetlana Kuznetsova fended off four match points en route to a 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2 win over Czech Donna Vekic in the Citi Open final in Washington on Sunday.
It took a remarkable comeback by the 2014 champion to win an 11th consecutive match in the U.S. capital and secure her 18th career title.
“There’s something going on in Washington,” Kuznetsova said. “I’ve been here two times and I’ve never lost.”
Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open champion, was once ranked as high as second in the world but has fallen to No. 128 after injuries and undergoing wrist surgery last November, making her the lowest-ranked player to win the tournament.
The Russian’s previous WTA title came at the Kremlin Cup in 2016 and she looked set to miss out on adding another Washington crown to her resume when she miscued a backhand into the net to give Vekic a third match point at 6-5 in the second set.
Kuznetsova crushed a forehand return winner to level at 6-6 but a Vekic forehand set up a fourth match point at 7-6, only for the Croat to hit a makeable forehand wide on the next point.
That saw the tide turn, as Kuznetsova’s defence brought out errors from seventh seed Vekic and the Russian took the next two points to win the tiebreak 9-7.
Kuznetsova then swept to a 5-0 lead in the deciding set with her eighth ace of the match, and she claimed victory when Vekic hit a forehand wide.
“Sorry I didn’t win today,” the tearful Czech said. “Tennis is not an easy game but I love this sport and hopefully I can be in a few more finals and win some more finals.”
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford)