Tennis: Top-ranked Swiatek beats Vekic for WTA San Diego title

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland at the San Diego Open, on Oct 14, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SAN DIEGO - World No. 1 Iga Swiatek captured her 11th career WTA title and her eighth of the year on Sunday by outlasting 77th-ranked Donna Vekic in the San Diego Open final.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek defeated the 26-year-old Croatian 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 for her WTA-best 64th match victory of 2022.

“It was a really tight match and pretty long,” Swiatek said. “We felt the intensity for sure. At the end I wanted to be the one who played the last ball in.”

Swiatek took her prior titles this year at the US and French Opens as well as Qatar, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome.

The 21-year-old Polish star bounced back in her ninth championship match of the year after losing last week’s final at Ostrava to Czech Barbora Krejcikova.

In a rain-halted semi-final delayed to Sunday afternoon, Vekic rallied from 4-2 down in the third set when showers struck to defeat 19th-ranked American Danielle Collins, this year’s Australian Open runner-up, by 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2).

That left her only a short rest break before facing Swiatek for the title, but she tested the top-ranked star through two sets.

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Swiatek broke in the sixth game and held twice to capture the first set after 40 minutes when Vekic netted a backhand.

In the second set, Vekic broke on a forehand crosscourt winner for a 4-2 lead and held twice to force a third set. It caused Swiatek to step up her form.

“I wanted to give it all, and knowing how Donna can serve, I wanted to be more loosened up on my return games – not think, just relax and let my instincts take over,” Swiatek said.

She broke on a forehand winner to seize a 2-0 edge in the decider, broke again in the fourth game and captured the match after one hour and 47 minutes when Vekic double faulted away a last break.

Vekic was in her first WTA final since she won her third career title last October at Courmayeur, Italy.

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