Top-ranked Iga Swiatek overcame the challenge of qualifier Donna Vekic on Sunday to win the San Diego Open title 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.
Swiatek earned her career-leading 64th win of the season at the WTA Finals, which begins Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. The event features the top eight singles and doubles on the tour.
The 21-year-old won her eighth title of the season, including the French Open and US Open earlier this year.
“I’ve been working hard with my coach and psychologist to stay focused on those moments that make it easier to close out a match,” Swiatek said. “I just wanted to be proactive in creating my shots.”
Speaking in her native Polish, Swiatek thanked the vocal Polish contingent who cheered her on with chants of “Iga! Iga!”
“I wanted to be the one to hit the last ball, use more patience and not think too much,” said Swiatek, who rose to world No. 1 some seven months ago following the surprise retirement of Australia’s Ash Barty.
Swiatek was awarded a winner’s check of $116,340 along with a yellow surfboard.
Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula won the doubles final, defeating Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski and Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos 1-6, 7-5, (10-4). Top seeds Gauff and Pegula had to play two full matches on Sunday as rain postponed the semi-final match.
After Vekic took the second set, Swiatek left no doubt about her dominance in the final set with a flurry of cross-court forehands and looping shots that unsettled her tired opponent.
“I managed to win the second set, but in the third I just hit Iga’s wall,” said Vekic, who entered the first-year WTA tournament as an unseeded qualifier, winning seven matches in eight days.
“She played out of this world,” added the Croatian. “She showed why she is definitely the best player in the world at the moment.”
The unlikely finalist, Vekic, who is ranked 77th, reached the final just hours before her match with Swiatek, with a 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2) semi-final win over unseeded Danielle Collins of the USA. a
Stretched into two days due to two long rain delays on Saturday night, the Vekic-Collins match lasted a total of three hours, including Sunday’s 32-minute finish. Collins started again at 4-2 in the third set, but Vekic fought back to reach the final.
More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports