Mertens captures Lugano for second title of year


A tight first set saw the powerful Sabalenka go toe-to-toe with the fleet-of-foot Mertens. The Belarusian was anxious to claim her first WTA singles title, after falling short in her only previous final, against Maria Sharapova in Tianjin last year.

Mertens, though, took the initial lead, using her exceptional defense to fluster Sabalenka and pick up a 3-1 advantage. However, Sabalenka rebounded, reaching 3-3 by breaking the Belgian at love with tremendous groundstrokes, including a thunderous backhand down the line to force an error for the break.

Despite that stumble, it was the Belgian who was holding more handily in the opening set, and Mertens kept pace, moving through to 5-5 with minimal fuss. The stability of Mertens proved crucial when Sabalenka faltered in that game, dropping serve at love with a backhand into the net. Mertens quickly clinched the one-set lead in the next game.



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