Liudmila Samsonova hit 10 aces and won her second career WTA title by coming back to beat sixth-seeded Kaia Kanepi 4-6 6-3 6-3 in the Citi Open decider.
Samsonova, the 23-year-old Russian currently ranked 60th after needing to sit out part of the season because of her country’s invasion of Ukraine, used a powerful serve against Kanepi to power through the bracket at the hard-court tournament, including a victory over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
Samsonova’s other championship came last year at a grass-court tournament in Berlin. Kanepi, a 37-year-old from Estonia, was seeking her fifth trophy and first since 2013. She faded on Sunday after taking the first set and left the court for a medical timeout late in the second during a five-game run for Samsonova.
This was big-serve, quick-strike tennis between a pair of women with similar playing styles on a humid afternoon not all that conducive to lengthy exchanges or a lot of running. Some spectators held umbrellas to provide shade; portable electric fans were placed next to sideline seats to offer a bit of respite to Kanepi and Samsanova during changeovers.
Samsonova earned her first break opportunity of the match, an hour in, when Kanepi dumped a forehand into the net.
Kanepi’s mistakes kept mounting and, helped by a double-fault, suddenly the second set belonged to Samsonova.
By the end, Samsonova had won 35 of 43 first-serve points, breaking to lead 5-3 in the third before serving it out after one hour 46 minutes.