The San Diego Open WTA 500, which had seen upsets all week long, ended with the top seeds in both singles and doubles pulling off exciting victories.
It was a thrilling final day of tennis at the Barnes Tennis Center, featuring a pair of three-set matches.
#1 Iga Swiatek def. Q. Donna Vekic (6-3) (3-6) (6-0)
The early stages of the first set were very even, as each player held serve without facing a break point. Vekic appeared to be working the drop shot early, coming just short on one in the first game, which nearly earned her a breakpoint. She unleashed another one in her second service game, which bounced twice in front of Swiatek to seal the game, earning loud applause from the sellout crowd of 2,376.
Trailing 2-3, Vekic faced a pair of break points to try and stay on serve. Vekic held on the first, but a backhand went long on the second, giving Swiatek control of the set. Vekic won a tense game to bring some intrigue back into the set, but the number one player in the world had an answer. She fired powerful stroke after powerful stroke to overwhelm Vekic. Swiatek didn’t face a break point or even reach deuce in one of her service games.
Enclaves of Polish fans chanted “Iga, Iga!” as Swiatek returned from a restroom break, but Vekic quieted the crowd by taking the first game of the set. Each of the following three games saw they server hold serve in comfortable fashion before Swiatek pushed Vekic in the fourth.
However, the Croatian responded, winning back-to-back points in deuce to put herself ahead, 3-2. In the next game, Vekic picked up her first two break points of the match, but she needed just one. She unleashed a lovely crosscourt winner that landed on the line, sending the crowd into a frenzy of applause. “I definitely believed in myself more in the second set, and I did think that maybe I could win this, but she was just too good in the third set.”, said Vekic after the match. Each player held serve comfortably for their next game, putting the pressure on Vekic to close out the set. Vekic took a commanding lead, giving herself three set points, but once again, she needed just one, dialing up a backhand that found its way onto the baseline.
In the decisive third set, Swiatek looked like the number one in the world throughout, winning all six games of the set. She ran Vekic all around the court, tiring out the 26-year-old. The Pole looked like a machine, unleashing powerful winners one after another. With Vekic trailing 3-0, her supporters chanted “Donna!” as an attempt to change her fortunes, but to no avail. Vekic just could not handle Swiatek, who had found the answer to Vekic. ”There are many things that make you number one, but being able to play your best on the big points is one of them.”, said Swiatek post-match. After a sensational passing shot from Swiatek, Vekic could do nothing but applaud, so she joined the rest of the raucous crowd.
Swiatek held serve to go up 5-0 before quickly earning herself two points for the championship. Vekic double-faulted to end the match, but it was still an incredible run for the qualifier. She won six matches in the tournament, boosting herself from 77th in the world up to 47th. Swiatek was not unflappable during the tournament, as she needed a third set in each of the three matches, but she looked unbeatable over the final set.
# 1 Coco Gauff/Jessica Pegula def. #2 Giuliana Olmos/Gabriela Dabrowski (1-6) (7-5) (10-4)
It was a dominant and comfortable first set for Dabrowski and Olmos, who won six consecutive games to close out the set. Everything that both players seemed to find its way past the American duo. Gauff and Pegula, who had already needed to play their semi-final earlier in the day due to Saturday’s rain, looked like they had no answer for the second seed. Dabrowksi and Olmos won all three of their break points chances, while Gauff and Pegula didn’t even have one.
The tone immediately shifted in the second set when Gauff and Pegula immediately took picked up a break. They were playing much better, forcing their opposition into tougher shots and seizing chances for winners. With the crowd sensing the momentum shifting in the American’s favor, they roared to life for the first time in the match. Gauff held serve to take a 2-0 lead, but Dabrowski and Olmos responded by winning three straight games, including breaking Pegula for the third time in the match. Gauff and Pegula responded by holding serve after a thrilling rally, with Pegual firing one through the middle of the court.
The Americans squandered a pair of break points in the next game, putting the pressure on Pegula to hold serve for the first time in the match. She was up to the challenge, leveling the set at four games apiece. Each side held serve to bring the score to five all, but Gauff and Pegula following with a break of Dabrowski. Gauff smashed a winner to end the game, giving Pegula a chance to serve for the match. She and Gauff won all four points, sending the match to a ten-point tiebreak for the title. “I think we just changed up our spots to mess with their rhythm.”, said Pegula after the match.
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Gauff and Pegula jumped into a 4-2 lead, but Dabrowski and Olmos leveled the score. However, Gauff and Pegula had all the answer, while Dabrowksi and Olmos had all the errors the rest of the way, as they won six consecutive points.
Sam is a Senior in High School. He has been writing for three years, and started at EVT in June of 2021. He’s headed to Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Communications in the fall of 2023.