Russian starlets win Asian tennis tournaments


Lyudmila Samsonova beat Zheng Qinwen in the Japan Open final before Ekaterina Alexandrova clinched the Korean Open by besting Jelena Ostapenko

Russian world number 30 Lyudmila Samsonova garnered her fourth career title on Sunday after defeating world number 36 Zheng Qinwen of China at the Japan Open.

In Seoul, Samsonova’s compatriot and world number 24 Ekaterina Alexandrova won her third career title and second in 2022 by seeing off Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets in the Korea Open.

Samsonova’s victory was achieved by triumphing 7-5, 7-5 over Zheng and extending her winning record to 18 victories in her last 19 matches.

Clinical offense was key to a win that will put her just outside the top 20 in a career-high ranking at the turn of the week, although the first set was tight and drawn 5-5 at one point.

After converting two forehands, Samsonova served out the first set after 57 minutes and finished it with 14 winners.

In a repeat of the first set, the second again headed to a 5-5 score. Breaking Zheng and then enjoying a service hold at love, however, Samsonova prevailed to win her third tournament this year after back-to-back titles in Washington D.C. and Cleveland last month.

Never dropping a set in Japan, Samsonova saw off the likes of reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Zhang Shuai, Garbine Muguruza, Wang Xinyu and then Zheng to take home the trophy.

Reacting to her win, Samsonova said it was a “really tough match” and gave “huge congrats” to her “amazing” 19-year-old opponent who will become the first Chinese teenager to crack the top 30 on Monday.

“It was a nervous match today. We were fighting every point. It was tough,” Samsonova added.

In the South Korean capital of Seoul, number two seed Alexandrova beat number one seed Ostapenko in the Korea Open final.

The first set went down to the wire and was won 7-6(4) by Alexandrova, who left no doubt in the second set and blew the Latvian away 6-0.

Boasting a 5-2 lead head to head, Alexandrova knows how to beat Ostapenko and prevented her from being the first two-time champion at the competition.

As shared online by the WTA, there was a touching moment after Alexandrova sealed her fifth top 20 win and second tournament win of the season. Approached politely by one of the ball girls helping out at Seoul Olympic Park, she gave her racket to the youngster.

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