By Erik Gudris | @ATNTennis | Sunday, August 7, 2022
Liudmila Samsonova stopped Kaia Kanepi in a steamy Washington, DC final to claim her second career WTA championship.
Photo credit: Citi Open
WASHINGTON, DC—Liudmila Samsonova of Russia almost didn’t make it to the Citi Open event due to almost not securing a visa in time.
Now the 23-year-old Samsonova is the event’s tenth WTA champion.
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Samsonova defeated veteran Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the WTA 250 event for her second career title to cap off a strong week of several wins, including over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the quarterfinals.
— wta (@WTA) August 7, 2022
After not being able to compete at Wimbledon, Samsonova used the month off to train and get ready for the summer hard court swing. She described being in DC as a “dream” week. Yet she admits the match could have gone either way.
“It was the hardest match of the week. Kaia was serving so well and it was a tough mental game too. I am happy I found the solutions,” Samsonova said afterwards. “The key was to find the solution on her serve. I had to find a way to be aggressive on her serve and break it.”
The sixth-seeded Kanepi sought her first title in over nine years, Samsonova her second career title since winning Berlin last year.
There was little between the World No. 37 Kanepi and World No.60 Samsonova in the first set. Both players ripped the ball from the baseline and took care of their serves with potent strikes. A first tiebreak looked likely until Samsonova served to stay in the set at 4-5.
Kanepi took advantage of two Samsonova backhand errors to give herself a set point. Kanepi ripped a return that Samsonova could not handle to secure the set 6-4.
The second set looked to be on a similar track to be razor close. That was until Kanepi, serving at 3-all netted a forehand to give Samsonova her first break point of the match. Samsonova then won an extended rally to take the break for 4-3.
Samsonova broke Kanepi again later while leading 5-3 to take the set 6-3.
Kanepi appeared to labor physically in the early stages of the final set. With her overall service speed dropping and also committing more errors, the Estonian eventually took an off-court medical time out to deal with an abdominal issue.
— wta (@WTA) August 7, 2022
Returning to the match, Kanepi started adding a bit more spin and variety to her shots in the rallies. She soon leveled for 3-all.
Still serving down 3-4, Kanepi’s errors resumed and she soon found herself down 0-40. A wayward forehand on break point gave Samsonova the 5-3 advantage.
Serving for the match, Samsonova looked ready to win her second career title. She fired down an ace for 30-15, then hit a comfortable cross court forehand winner for match point.
Samsonova struck a final big serve that Kanepi could not handle to secure the 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory in an hour and 46 minutes.
Samsonova hit 10 aces in total, including six in the final set, compared to five aces for Kanepi.
“It was an amazing week for me I’ve enjoyed everything here and especially all of the crowd support,” Kanepi said during the trophy ceremony.
Later when asked about her week and just missing out on the title, Kanepi added, “No, it makes me really happy. I think it’s better to lose in the final than in the first round (smiling). So, yeah, overall I think the week was very good. It’s also good to get matches here in the US before the US Open.”