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Pro Media & News

Riske closes out 2021 with

third career title in Linz

Victoria Chiesa  |  November 12, 2021
Alison Riske of the USA poses after winning the WTA Tour Upper Austria Ladies Linz on November 12, 2021 in Linz, - Austria OUT (Photo by Reinhard EISENBAUER / APA / AFP) / Austria OUT (Photo by REINHARD EISENBAUER/APA/AFP via Getty Images)
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In the penultimate WTA tournament of 2021, American Alison Riske walked away with the trophy.

 

Seeded No. 8 at the Upper Austria Ladies' Linz, Riske captured her third career WTA singles title with a resurgent run through the field, ending the week, and her season, with a 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 comeback victory over lucky loser Jaqueline Cristian of Romania. Two points from defeat in the decider against Cristian, the world No. 100 who was bidding to match Coco Gauff's 2019 achievement of winning Linz as a lucky loser, Riske won three straight games from 4-5, 15-30 down on serve to take the title.

 

The American had previously been up a break twice in the final set, but Cristian won a pair of marathon games to put herself in pole position: she denied Riske six game points for 5-3 in an eventual break for 4-4, and held serve in the next game from 0-40 down to put herself on the brink of her own first career title. 

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Riske hadn't dropped a set in her previous four rounds, with straight-set victories over German Mona Barthel, France's Alizé Cornet and China's Wang Xinyu (who'd upset top seed and US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round) preceding her abridged semifinal win against Danielle Collins, where the No. 3 seed retired with a right shoulder injury after dropping the opener, 7-5. Conversely, Cristian beat No. 4 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia in the quarterfinals and was the beneficiary of a walkover by No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the semifinals. 

 

"It was so special to be back playing in front of a packed crowd, and that was something that I feel like we haven't had for such a long time now. To hear 'Ali' being called out was very special," Riske said in her victory speech. "I haven't been here for years, and it's a truly first-class [event]."

 

An injury-plagued first half of 2021 saw Riske struggle with a left foot problem that limited her to just three matches played in the season's first five months. Though a highlight was representing Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics in August, she had just four victories on the year in total when she arrived in Portoroz, Slovenia in mid-September. There, however, the 31-year-old doubled her season's total of match wins and reached her 10th career final, finishing runner-up to Italian Jasmine Paolini. She finished the year on an upswing with a 12-5 record in her last six events, and is now 3-8 in her career in WTA singles finals. 

 

Photo: Alison Riske with the trophy at the Upper Austria Ladies' Linz. Photo credit: Getty Images.

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