Fantastic Fiona! Ferro Wins 31st Palermo Ladies Open

WASHINGTON, August 10, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

If they were making a film based upon the final of the 31st Palermo Ladies Open, “Forehands of Fury” would be an appropriate title. After all, France’s Fiona Ferro used her steady but potent forehand most effectively all week long on the red clay at ASD Country Time Club in southern Italy. Arguably, she saved her best performance for the end.

On a warm (27º-Celsius) summer Sunday evening in Sicily, the 23-year-old rising star Ferro won her second career WTA singles title by capturing the Palermo crown over No. 4 and 22nd-ranked Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, 6-2, 7-5. It was the first WTA final held since the tour’s relaunch this week following a five-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it was my best match of the week,” said Ferro during the trophy ceremony on Center Court. “I was feeling relaxed; I don’t know why because it was a final.

“I wasn’t really feeling pressure. It was a tough match because she’s a really consistent player who doesn’t give you too many points. I had a good intensity throughout the whole match, I didn’t miss a lot, made a lot of winners. So, I’m really happy to have the trophy with me.”

The French No. 3 Ferro, who began ranked 53rd and unseeded at Palermo last Monday, will make her Top 50 debut this week – very well deserved – at No. 44 with her title triumph. Ferro completed her memorable journey, in which she won back-to-back matches on tour for the first time since the 2019 US Open, by dropping just one set in five matches, against 89th-ranked Camila Giorgi, during her 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 semifinal win on Saturday night.

Said Ferro: “Giorgi’s game was very stressful an I didn’t know how to handle it in the first set. It was definitely when I felt the least calm, so I felt much better today.”

Ferro dominated the first set against Kontaveit by breaking the Estonian’s serve twice – during the opening and seventh games of the set. To her credit, Kontaveit saved five break points. However, on Ferro’s sixth try which was set up with stinging forehand winner, she won the 41-minute opening set 6-2 when Kontaveit sailed a two-fisted backhand long. Ferro was particularly effective in winning 12 of 17 points on her second serve and she saved both break points she faced, which came in her first service game of the match. By the end, Ferro captured 54 percent of her second-serve points while erasing four of six break points.

A turning point in the second set came in eighth game, in which a patient Kontaveit broke to win a 12-point game on her second break-point chance. However, Ferro broke right back in the next game to stay in the set. Her clean touches and overall hustle throughout allowed her to dictate many key points and certainly that was one of them. Then, Ferro held for 5-all and broke Kontaveit for a fifth time during their one hour and 43-minute title match. Finally, she served out the victory by winning her third consecutive game on her second championship point opportunity. Kontaveit is now 1-5 in six career WTA finals.

Ferro ended the high-quality match with 51 winners, which included three service aces, against 24 unforced errors. Meanwhile, Kontaveit hit 40 winners but committed 23 unforced errors. She also double-faulted four times.

Looking back, Ferro rode the momentum she established during the WTA tour’s downtime when she won a couple of FFT regional tournaments back home in France and proceeded to knock off two Top 30 seeds during her title run in Palermo: No. 27 Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round and Kontaveit in the final. Ferro said, “This title means a lot, especially after five tough months of practice. I was already feeling so happy just to be back on court and competing. So, this is an even nicer way to finish the week with the win.”

The title is worth 20,161 euros for Ferro plus she earns 280 WTA rankings points.

Rus and Zidansek win doubles final

In the doubles final between a pair of unseeded teams, it was Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands and Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia who prevailed over Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Martina Trevisan of Italy, 7-5, 7-5, in one hour and 38 minutes, to lift the first WTA doubles trophy since the tour’s relaunch this week in southern Italy.

Coming in both Rus and Zidansek owned one WTA doubles title each while the Italians were looking for their first title.

Rus and Zidansek converted five of 16 break point opportunities and they outpointed Cocciaretto and Trevisan 79-69.

En route to Sunday’s final, Rus and Zidansek beat No. 2 seeds Raluca Olaru and Dayana Yastremska in the first round while Cocciaretto and Trevisan beat two seeded teams this week, including Spanish top seeds Sara Sorribes Tormo and Georgina García Pérez in the quarterfinal round and No. 4 seeds Bibiane Schoofs and Rosaline Van Der Hoek in the semifinals.

Rus and Zidansek will split 7,258 euros and 280 rankings points for winning the title.