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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday April 25, 2021

 
Sorana Cirstea

Sorana Cirstea defeated Elise Mertens to cap a splendid title run at the Istanbul Open on Sunday.
Photo Source: Gökhan Taner/ Istanbul Open

Sorana Cirstea came to Istanbul dreading spending time on clay again. She leaves with her first title since 2008, after an eye-opening week that saw her move through the draw without the loss of a single set.

Tennis Express


The Romanian rifled past Belgium’s Elise Mertens on Sunday, 6-2, 7-6(3), to claim her first WTA title since 2008 Tashkent.

"Thank god I don't count the years,” Cirstea said when referring back to her last title on tour. “Otherwise it would be tough for the head, but I'm very, very happy, because I basically came all the way and I had five good matches, without losting a set, and also today beating a Top 20 player, it gives me a lot of confidence, she's also very solid and she doesn't give you any free points, so I'm very, very happy about this title, because I think it's one that I deserve it."

After sweeping through the opening set, Cirstea faced a very stern challenge from Mertens, who jumped out to a lead in set two before Cirstea stormed back.

"I started the match very strong, but I knew Elise is a fighter, she never backs down,” Cirstea said. “I was expecting a good reply from her in the second set, and I probably started to rush a little bit and she became a bit more offensive and I think I was down, 4-1, but somehow I still believed that I could finish in two, and I think today it was the key, the belief, the belief that I could beat her and the belief that I have the game, and also the mind.”

Cirstea says it was her decision making, coupled with her trademark aggression, that helped her get over the top.

"I think being more aggressive, I was trying to go for my shots, but I was trying to be disciplined, not go crazy, I was trying to pick up the right shots, and trying to come in at the net every time I had the chance,” she said. “Trying to be aggressive on the second serves and overall trying to be in charge of the points."


 

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