Beijing: Iga Swiatek delivered a dominant performance to win the China Open on Sunday, crowning a resurgent run of form with a straight-sets win over Liudmila Samsonova in Beijing.
The world No 2 triumphed 6-2, 6-2 to take the first China Open women’s title since 2019, after Beijing lifted its isolationist zero-Covid policy.
The victory capped a strong showing for four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek, who was deposed as the world’s top-ranked player by Aryna Sabalenka last month.
The 22-year-old broke Samsonova’s serve in the sixth game and sealed the opening set when the unseeded Russian slammed a forehand into the net.
Swiatek looked assured throughout and quickly notched another break in set two when her error-prone opponent fired another forehand wide.
And when Samsonova sent an ill-advised drop-shot into the net to hand her the victory, the Pole doubled over with emotion before a delighted crowd.
Favourite to win
Swiatek was the favourite to win the final after handing US Open champion Coco Gauff her first defeat in 17 matches in the final four on Saturday.
Sabalenka had been knocked out in the quarter-finals by fifth-ranked Elena Rybakina, who was in turn dumped out by Samsonova in the other semi-final.
Ranked 22nd, Samsonova had racked up a string of impressive victories against higher-ranked players but the result of Sunday’s final rarely looked in doubt.
The match brought to a close the first China Open in four years, after Beijing lifted onerous travel restrictions that formed part of a longtime policy to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
It was also the first time the women’s tournament had taken place since the international governing body announced the end of an embargo imposed on China following sexual assault allegations by former player Peng Shuai.
The Women’s Tennis Association had withdrawn from the country after Peng accused a top Communist Party official of forcing her into sex, but the overlap with Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy meant its ban was largely symbolic.
The men’s tournament wrapped up on Wednesday when Italy’s Jannik Sinner beat world No 3 Daniil Medvedev to take the trophy.