Camila Giorgi, playing in her first WTA final of 2018, became the first Italian champion at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. The No.5 seed, who lost just a single set, to Margarita Gasparyan in the quarterfinals, before dismissing Van Uytvanck in the fourth semifinal of the season after losing in Tokyo, Prague and Sydney, dispatched Russian qualifier Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-3 6-1.
Next week, Giorgi will climb to No.28 and will likely be seeded at the 2019 Australian Open. Alexandrova, who fell as low as No.122 after the Us Open, will climb back into the Top 100. Giorgi won her first title back in 2015 at the Ricoh Open in 's-Hertogenbosch, defeating Belinda Bencic in the final.
That year, she finished the season with the best year-end ranking of her career to date at No.34. But she's projected to improve her best ranking and finish the 2018 campaign well inside the Top 30 for the first time. In Linz, Giorgi had played her second WTA title-match in 2014, losing to Karolina Pliskova after missing match points.
She went one point away from victory also in her maiden tour-level final that season against Alizé Cornet in Katowice, where she lost three finals in a row. The Wimbledon quarterfinalist made no mistakes in her first WTA final appearance in over two years, blasting past Alexandrova who aimed to become the fourth Russian champion in Austria after Nadia Petrova (2005), Maria Sharapova (2006) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (2015).
The Italian, who suffered from a foot injury in the final games of the semifinals, grabbed a crucial break to 5-3 in the opening set. Giorgi continued to return well inside the baseline, as she did throughout the tournament, and quickly attacked the Russian who grew tentative and inconsistent off the forehand side.
Playing her first WTA final, the Russian struggled to counter the attack-minded Giorgi as she punctuated the last service game of the opening set with an ace out wide to convert the first opportunity. Giorgi rode that momentum while Alexandrova, after an encouraging drop shot, got broken in the very first game of the second set double-faulting on break point.
The Italian easily built a 4-0 lead as she won six games in a row, and even held a pair of break points for a triple break. Alexandrova saved both to stay in contention, but the Italian proved unstoppable and secured victory as Alexandrova sent the final backhand wide.
The lone Italian into the Top 50 returned to Top 30 for the first time since August 2015 after her semifinal run in Tokyo, where she lost to Osaka in her bid to become the first Italian to reach the final after Francesca Schiavone in 2010.
In the second-round, she completed the best win of her career in terms of ranking beating No.2 Wozniacki. It was her ninth victory against Top 10 opponents after beating No.7 Errani at 2012 Beijing, No.8 Wozniacki at 2013 US Open, No.5 Sharapova at 2014 Indian Wells, No.10 Cibulkova at 2014 Rome, No.8 Azarenka at 2014 Eastbourne, No.9 A.Radwanska at 2015 Katowice, No.3 Karolina Pliskova at 2017 Prague and No.5 Svitolina at 2017 Birmingham.
In 2018, Giorgi had won through qualifying to reach the semifinals at Sydney (l. eventual champion Kerber), defeating No.13 Stephens and former champions Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska en route, and made the first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon on her 26th appearance at this level; she became the first Italian woman to reach the last 8 at the Championships Wimbledon since 2009 (Schiavone, l.
Dementieva). Bidding to be only the second Italian – man or woman – to reach the semifinals there, after Pietrangeli in 1960, she won the first set to Serena Williams who managed to come back and went on to reach the final.