A Joyful Sorribes Tormo Wins Her First WTA Title

Sara Sorribes Tormo (photo: @wta/Instagram)

GUADALAJARA/WASHINGTON, March 14, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

On a warm, late-winter’s evening in Guadalajara, Mexico, Saturday’s Abierto Zapopan 2021 singles final between Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard and Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain turned into a battle between heavy hitters, each swinging a big racquet and carrying their heart on their sleeve. Even though only one of them could win the biggest trophy at the end, in a way both came away winners.

On this night, it was Sorribes Tormo’s turn to fall to the ground in joyful happiness, fighting back more than a few emotional tears, and to share the memories of lifting the champion’s trophy. That’s because Sorribes Tormo won her first WTA singles title with a gritty but determined performance. Her 6-2, 7-5 victory was played out over one hour and 56 minutes. Throughout, there was plenty of passion coming from both players, a smashed racquet by Bouchard and by the end, a first-time winner in Sorribes Tormo.

Following their respective straight-set semifinal wins Friday evening, the No. 4 seed Sorribes Tormo, ranked 71st, and unseeded wild card Bouchard, ranked No. 144, slugged it out for the singles title in this WTA 250 outdoor hardcourt event in the city of Guadalajara, known for its regal cathedral with twin gold spires, and located the western Mexico state of Jalisco, widely hailed for its tequila and mariachi music.

“From the first point, from the first game with my serve, I just tried to stay to stay there at the beginning, because she was hitting so strong,” said Sorribes Tormo during her virtual press conference with English and Spanish-language media, responding to a Tennis TourTalk question asking why she thought she won.

“I just tried to hold my serve, to make her think, and I think I made it good. I’m really, really happy with the way I played and happy to win, very happy.”

From the outset, the first six games of the opening set went to deuce and while Sorribes Tormo was perfectly patient to punch it out with Bouchard in a north-south direction from baseline to baseline, she took a decidedly different route by controlling east-west points with some beautifully-angled returns.

While Bouchard began zero-for-seven on break-point conversions, to compound her miseries she had her service broken twice – receiving a point penalty for racquet abuse after the second one – and committed 22 unforced errors. Sorribes Tormo consolidated both service breaks and closed out the 54-minute set by winning it 6-2.

In the second set, Sorribes Tormo broke Bouchard’s serve in each of the Canadian’s first two service games. Although the Spaniard surrendered back the first break, she consolidated the second one by climbing out of a 15-40 hole by saving two break points to push ahead 3-1, showing some fantastic hitting in the clutch. Then, after a love hold, Bouchard broke Sorribes Tormo for just the second time by mixing things up while controlling the tempo. The Canadian showed she was ready to dig in for the battle. She held at love, again, to take a 4-3 lead, and with her confidence renewed, Bouchard broke at love to go further ahead at 5-3, serving for the set.

“At that moment, she was playing better than me,” Sorribes Tormo said. “I just tried to stay focused and do what I had to do. …

“I always take the positive route. I’m a positive person.”

Indeed, Sorribes Tormo is a positive person, and she had some different ideas, too. She smothered Bouchard by winning the final four games of the match, patiently taking it one game at a time. It seemed Sorribes Tormo had all the right stuff to get the job done. By the end, she was the one celebrating, falling down, earning the biggest trophy – and her best friend on tour, Marie Bouzkova from the Czech Republic, whom she eliminated just a night earlier in the semifinals, was there to help Sorribes Tormo celebrate her biggest moment as a professional tennis player.

“She an amazing person, an amazing player,” Sorribes Tormo said. “We’re really good friends. I was really super happy to be able to spend time with her all this week and also during that very nice moment on the court.”

The 27-year-old Bouchard, who was making her eighth career WTA singles final appearance, has been patiently trying to win her first crown since 2014. Now, she’ll have to wait a little while longer. Meanwhile, Sorribes Tormo, 24, reached her first WTA singles final after previously going 0-2 in WTA semifinals. After Saturday, she’s 2-0 lifetime against Bouchard after beating her in Monterrey, Mexico, back in 2017 on an outdoor hardcourt, 7-6 (8), 6-3.

Tennis TourTalk asked Bouchard to describe what thought was the difference between winning and losing the match. She described it this way: “She hit a lot of ball fast tonight. I didn’t really figure out the right balance between being patient and aggressive. I felt like when I was aggressive, I was missing too many balls. When I was trying to be more conservative, I got stuck in some long rallies. I didn’t quite figure it out today.

“Sara never gave up. She hit a lot of balls back. That’s her game.”

Looking back on the memory of her first WTA title, Sorribes Tormo said, “I’m proud of everything. I’m proud of how I managed my emotions in playing my first final. I’m happy with the way I managed to deal with the altitude. I’m happy with my attitude.

“I know my game is not amazing and I need to improve every single part of my game. It’s what I’m trying to do.”

Lively atmosphere all week at Centro Panamericano de Tenis

All week long, a lively atmosphere permeated Guadalajara’s Centro Panamericano de Tenis as fans showed their appreciation for the competitors, something which all of the players said they appreciated. Saturday’s final was no different as the small but vocal , socially–distanced crowd applauded many entertaining points between Sorribes Tormo and Bouchard, anything to make things more joyful for the players.

After her semifinal win Friday evening against Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto, Bouchard told Tennis TourTalk, “It is so special; I can’t emphasize that enough,” she said. “It’s so special to play in front of fans. It’s the most fans I’ve played in front of since over a year ago, probably Auckland in 2020. It’s just like so much more fun. Yeah, it’s like the point of doing what we do, actually playing front of them instead of playing a match in practice conditions. They’ve been so fun and into it. They see to know and appreciate tennis. Those are always my favorite kinds of crowds to play in front of.”

For Sorribes Tormo, she’ll be celebrating the thrill of victory going forward, while for Bouchard there’s the agony of defeat – another title opportunity slipped away – but, it seems, the spark is back in her enthusiasm to play tennis. In another day or two, they’ll both be back on court. This time, though, Sorribes Tormo and Bouchard will start all over at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, hoping for another opportunity to play in another Golden Swing final.

Perez/Sharma win first title together

Third-seeded Australian duo Ellen Perez and Astra Sharma beat the top-seeded pair of Desirae Krawczyk of the United States and Giuliana Olmos from Mexico, 6-4, 6-4, to win the Abierto Zapopan 2021 doubles title. It was the second title each for Perez and Sharma but their first together as a team.

Although Olmos and Krawczyk had won two titles together, at Nottingham, England, in 2019, and last year in Acapulco, Mexico – and were the favorites to win in Guadalajara – it was Perez and Sharma who meshed together best Saturday.

The Aussies combined for six aces, won 92 percent of their first-serve points, saved three of four they faced from Krawczyk and Olmos and broke their opponents three times. Perez and Sharma outpointed Krawczyk and Olmos 61-45.

Perez and Sharma will split $10,300 and earned 280 WTA Rankings points.

Nadia Podoroska: Goodbye Guadalajara

Garbiñe Muguruza: A trophy and a smile

Daniil Medvedev: Do not try this at home

Marie Bouzkova: All currencies in stock

Congratulations, Andy Murray and family

No Dubai this year for Andy Murray as he announced on Friday that his wife gave birth to the couple’s fourth child.

Monte Carlo: A much smaller footprint this year

Scenes we’re missing

Heather Watson: Next stop Monterrey, Mexico

What they’re sharing on social media

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Naomi Osaka / How I spent my vacation

Zizou Bergs / Trusting his vision