Italian giant killer Jasmine Paolini claims maiden WTA title at Portoroz

World No 87 Jasmine Paolini took out four seeded players in Portoroz en route to her first WTA title.

Jasmine Paolini

She came, she saw, she conquered. Italy’s Jasmine Paolini completed a run for the ages on Sunday in Portoroz, rallying from a double break down in set one to defeat third-seeded American Alison Riske, 7-6(4), 6-2 in one hour and 45 minutes.

Paolini took out four seeded players – No 6 Dayana Yastremska, No 4 Sorana Cirstea, No 2 Yulia Putintseva and Riske – and will rise to a career-high 64 in Monday’s WTA rankings.

Paolini, who finished in the WTA’s year-end top 100 (95) for the first time in 2020, now owns five top 50 wins, three of which came this week in Portoroz (Cirstea, Putintseva, Riske).

Back from the brink in set one

Paolini turned the match when Riske served for the opening set at 5-2. She broke at love, held at love for 5-4, then converted her third break point of the tenth game to level at five-all.

From 2-2 in the first-set tiebreak, 5’4″ Paolini won five of the final seven points.

The 25-year-old Italian continued the momentum in the second set, breaking at love for 1-0, but Riske fought back to draw even at 2-2.

The American didn’t have much left from there, however.

Paolini took the final four games, losing just seven points the rest of the way.

“You were just way too good tonight,” Riske told Paolini during the post-match trophy presentation. “I think I can count on one hand how many balls you missed, and that was really annoying. You really deserve it – congrats on a great week.”

Riske drops to 2-8 lifetime in WTA finals with the loss.

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