Bernarda Pera wins first WTA singles title in Budapest
Croatian-born American Bernarda Pera arrived at the Hungarian Grand Prix ranked No. 130, her lowest position in five years, and on a five-match losing streak. Sidelined with injury from mid-February to early May, the former world No. 59 struggled for momentum in the first six months of the season, winning back-to-back matches just three times.
None of that mattered for the 27-year-old once the week was done: beginning the tournament in qualifying, Pera won seven straight matches in the Hungarian capital to capture her first-ever WTA singles title. She defeated Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets on Sunday, 6-3, 6-3, to take home the trophy in her first-ever championship appearance.
She had previously been 0-4 in WTA semifinals before this event.
"It’s still so overwhelming," Pera said after the match. "I’m still a little bit shocked how it turned out, but I felt I played some good tennis and I’m so excited for the win.
"The beginning of the season was tough for me with a small injury that kept me off for two months. So it’s been a tough year, not many wins, but it turns so quickly."
Pera is the third qualifier to win a WTA tour-level title this season, and the fourth first-time title-winner through nearly seven months. She's also the sixth left-hander to win a singles title this year, joining Leylah Fernandez (Monterrey), Martina Trevisan (Rabat), Angelique Kerber (Strasbourg), Beatriz Haddad Maia (Nottingham and Birmingham) and Petra Kvitova (Eastbourne).
In seven wins, she didn't lose a set. The top seed in qualifying, Pera lost just five games in two matches to reach the main draw; there, she upset No. 5 seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Round 2 and No. 9 seed Anna Bondar, the highest-ranking Hungarian, in the semifinals.
Road to the Championship - Bernarda Pera
QR1: def. Katarina Zavatska (UKR) 6-1, 6-1
QR2: def. Sofia Shapatava (GEO) 6-1, 6-2
R1: def. Marina Bassols Ribera (ESP) 6-2, 7-5
R2: (5) Aliaksandra Sasnovich - 7-5, 6-2
QF: Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) - 6-4, 6-3
SF: def. (9) Anna Bondar (HUN) - 6-3, 6-4
F: def. Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) - 6-3, 6-3
With the win, Pera improved her career head-to-head against Krunic, the former world No. 39, to 3-0. She is projected to return to the Top 100 in the rankings as the result of her victory; she'll soar nearly 50 spots back into the Top 85.
Pera's 2022 season now boasts her first WTA singles and doubles titles; she and Czech Katerina Siniakova won the Melbourne Summer Set 1 in January ahead of the Australian Open.
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