The 14-year-old Ksenia Efremova showed her rich talent in Monastir last week, claiming her first professional title! Ksenia entered only her second main draw at professional events. However, it was hardly an obstacle for her, beating seven rivals in straight sets and becoming the youngest ITF World Tennis Tour champion since 2003.
Sesil Karatantcheva, Alisa Kleybanova, Timea Bacsinszky and Nicole Vaidisova claimed their maiden professional titles at 14 in 2003, and Efremova joined the list two decades later. The young Russian who plays under the French flag trains at Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, already practicing with names like Daniil Medvedev and gathering experience.
Ksenia ended her previous Monastir campaign with a quarter-final run as a qualifier and started all over a month later. The youngster made a convincing start, winning all nine games in the first qualifying round before Rituparna Nayak retired while trailing 6-0, 3-0.
A day later, Efremova took down Zdena Safarova 6-0, 6-4 in an hour and 19 minutes, delivering another bagel and marching into the main draw. Ksenia grabbed five consecutive breaks for a 6-0, 2-1 advantage. The French player served well in the rest of the second set, bringing it home with a hold in game ten.
Preserving energy, Ksenia was ready for her first-round main draw clash on Wednesday. The 14-year-old toppled the 5th seed Tilwith Di Girolami 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 32 minutes, earning her third professional main-draw win.
Both players struggled on the second serve, and Efremova made the difference behind the first. The young gun defended six out of nine break points and delivered six breaks from 11 opportunities, enough to emerge at the top in straight sets.
Efremova made a slow start and found herself 3-1 behind after experiencing back-to-back breaks. The 14-year-old recovered her strokes, serving well in the rest of the set and keeping the pressure on her opponent.
14-year-old Ksenia Efremova claimed her first professional title in Monastir.
Ksenia produced two holds at love and grabbed breaks in games eight and ten, rattling off four games to steal the opener 6-4.
Efremova denied break points at the beginning of the second set and delivered a break in the next one for 2-0, extending her streak. The young gun broke again in the fourth game and defended break points in the next one, seizing nine straight games for a 6-4, 5-0 lead!
Di Girolami saved a match point on serve in game six and reduced the deficit to 5-2 after a break at love in the next one. Efremova stayed focused and secured another break in game eight for a convincing victory. Ksenia reached her second professional quarter-final with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Turkey's Selina Atay in 67 minutes.
The French player delivered better numbers behind the first and second serve, losing serve three times and seizing six out of seven break opportunities to make the difference. Atay made a stronger start and moved 2-0 in front with a break in game two.
Ksenia pulled the break back at love in game three and held at 30 in the next one for 2-2. A teenager broke again in the fifth game to move in front before losing serve, keeping her opponent at 3-3. Efremova worked hard in the eighth game, defending three break points and rattling off five points for a vital hold and 4-4.
Ksenia broke Selina in the ninth game and wrapped up the opener with a fine hold in the next one. They traded breaks early in the second set, and Efremova clinched another for 3-2. A teenager served well in games six and eight, staying in front and sealing the deal with a break at love at 5-3, securing a place in the last eight.
Playing her fifth match within as many days, Ksenia battled against the top seed, Adithya Karunaratne. She earned a 7-6, 6-2 victory in an hour and 56 minutes, advancing into her first professional semi-final at 14. Efremova defended her second serve nicely and erased four out of six break points.
The young gun delivered four breaks from seven chances, enough to seal the deal in straight sets. Ksenia denied a break point at 1-2 in the opener and erased two more in game six for 3-3.
Karunaratne served well until the 11th game when Efremova broke her for a 6-5 lead, serving for the first set. The young gun got broken at 15 and introduced a tie break. Ksenia clinched three straight points at 4-4, securing the opener and gaining a boost.
Efremova broke at love at 2-1 in the second set and earned another return game for 5-1. Ksenia failed to serve out for the win in game seven, losing serve at 15 before making her third straight break at 5-2 for a place in the last four.
Efremova faced the 4th seed Milana Zhabrailova and shined in a 6-4, 6-0 triumph, reaching her first professional final after an hour and 31 minutes. Ksenia did everything right behind the initial shot, losing sevre once and breaking her opponent five times from nine chances for a comfortable victory.
Efremova was off to a flying start, earning two early breaks and forging a 4-0 advantage. Zhabrailova climbed back to 3-4 before Efremova closed the opener with a fine hold in game ten. The young gun was the only player on the court in set number two, barely losing a point behind the initial shot and securing three breaks for a bagel.
Sunday brought the big final and Ksenia's seventh match in as many days. The young gun faced the 6th seed Selian Dal and grabbed a 7-6, 6-0 victory in an hour and 40 minutes, celebrating her first professional title at 14!
Ksenia won 57% of the return points, turning them into six breaks from 13 opportunities. A teenager trailed 4-1 and 5-3 in the opener. She overcame the deficit and grabbed a tie break before dominating set number two with her fourth bagel of the week!
Ksenia defended break points in the opening service game, avoiding an early setback. Dal erased a break point in game three and broke the young gun in the next one for a 3-1 lead. Facing another setback, Ksenia saved a break point in game six, remaining within one break deficit and staying competitive.
The Frenc pulled the break back in game seven before suffering another break in the next one, allowing the German to serve for the opener at 5-3. Efremova saved two set points and claimed four straight points for a pivotal break.
Ksenia held after deuce in game ten, locking the result at 5-5 and extending the drama. Efremova broke again in the 11th game, serving for the set but experiencing a break at love, keeping her rival in contention ahead of the tie break.
Trailing 5-3, the 14-year-old rattled off four points, taking the breaker 7-5 and ending Dal's resistance. Efremova lost four points behind the initial shot in set number two, and Dal could not follow that pace. The French player broke the German three times, embracing a bagel and lifting her first professional title at such a young age.