Former Lagos Open champion, Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, on Sunday, defeated Sloane Stephens in the final of the WTA Finals in Singapore to lift the biggest title of her career.
It was a brilliant way to cap off a sensational week at the prestigious year-ending event in which she defeated Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki in the round-robin stage, before going on to beat Kiki Bertens in the semifinals and Sloane Stephens in the final in only her second appearance at the event.
The WTA Finals is an annual event that features the leading eight players in the world, boasting a total prize money of $7million. The tournament is split into two groups of four for round-robin matches before the semi-finals and final.
Since the tournament’s inception in 1972, some of the greatest players in the world have participated and won the event. The great Martina Navratilova holds the record for the most number of titles, with eight, while Serena Williams comes in at second place with five titles.
In Sunday’s final, Svitolina fell behind early to Stephens, who had not lost a match en route to the final, and lost the set. The Ukrainian, however, stung into action thereafter, showing grit and an array of shot-making brilliance in the second and third sets to claim a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory, becoming the first Ukrainian to lift the WTA Finals trophy.
“I think I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone and it’s definitely a good statement for myself,” Svitolina said. “I think mental toughness is what I really had to show.
“I played great tennis and I worked my way into the tournament. It’s going to bring me lots of confidence.”
This incredible milestone comes seven years after Svitolina, aged just 17 then, wrought wonders at the Lagos Open, formerly known as the Governor’s Cup, in Onikan. She breezed to the final of the first leg, where she defeated Donna Vekic to claim the title in 2011. She would, however, fall short to Belgium’s Tamaryn Hendler in the semifinals of the second leg. But her ascent up the professional ladder since then has been nothing short of remarkable.
Svitolina, now ranked 4th, reached a career-high ranking of No.3 in the world in September, 2017 and currently boasts 13 WTA titles- a clear testament to the apothegm that the Lagos Open is where stars are made.