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PICS: Frenchwoman Ferro is first WTA champ amid COVID-19

August 10, 2020 10:10 IST
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Ferro, who will be remembered for winning the first official tournament on tennis' return amid the pandemic, will now climb to World No 44 in the WTA rankings on Monday. 

France's Fiona Ferro of France celebrates winning the Palermo Open after defeating Estonia's Anett Kontaveit in Palermo on Sunday

IMAGE: France's Fiona Ferro of France celebrates winning the Palermo Open after defeating Estonia's Anett Kontaveit in Palermo on Sunday. Photograph: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

France's Fiona Ferro became the first WTA champion in five months on Sunday as she overpowered Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 7-5 to win the Palermo Ladies Open, the first Tour event to be staged since the COVID-19 epidemic shut down the sport.

Ferro went 10 matches unbeaten in regional exhibition events after the Tour was suspended in March, and continued to gather further momentum with five more wins in Palermo this week as major tennis returned in the Sicilian capital.

 

"I think it was my best match of the week," the 23-year-old Ferro said after landing the second title of her career with a dominant display.

Fiona Ferro struck 51 winners and broke Kontaveit's serve five times in a clinical display 

IMAGE: Fiona Ferro struck 51 winners and broke Kontaveit's serve five times in a clinical display. Photograph: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

"I was feeling relaxed... I don't know why because it was a final! I wasn't really feeling pressure."

Several exhibition events have taken place globally since the sport was halted in early March due to the pandemic but the women's claycourt tournament in Palermo was the first across both the elite WTA and ATP tours in five months.

There were strict health protocols, including limited number of fans and no handshakes between players after the match.

Masked up fans watch the Palermo Open final from the stands

IMAGE: Masked up fans watch the Palermo Open final from the stands. Photograph: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Players and officials underwent COVID-19 tests every four days and one player who tested positive pulled out of the tournament last weekend.

"I had a good intensity throughout the whole match, I didn't miss a lot, made a lot of winners, so I'm really happy to have the trophy with me," said the Belgian-born Ferro.

She struck 51 winners and broke Kontaveit's serve five times in a clinical display as she clinched the title on her second match point.

Anett Kontaveit congratulates Fiona Ferro on her win. World No 22 Kontaveit has now lost five of the six finals she has contested

IMAGE: Anett Kontaveit congratulates Fiona Ferro on her win. World No 22 Kontaveit has now lost five of the six finals she has contested. Photograph: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

The result ensures Ferro will make her world top-50 debut at number 44 when the latest WTA rankings are released on Monday.

Estonia's Kontaveit, ranked 22nd, has now lost five of the six finals she has contested.

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