Title boosts for Stef and Coco

Tsitsipas takes top honours in Lyon as Gauff lifts trophy in Parma

Stefanos Tsitsipas, final, Monte-Carlo, 2021©️ Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

A week out from the beginning of Roland-Garros 2021 and four more clay-court trophies are in the hands of in-form contenders.

Greek world No.5 Stefanos Tsitsipas became the latest player to add to his haul, conjuring a fine performance in his fourth final of the season to dismiss unseeded Briton, Cameron Norrie, in the Lyon final on Sunday.

Tsitsipas cemented his position as one of the title favourites for Roland-Garros after capturing the seventh singles trophy of his career. His tour-leading 33rd match-win of the year came 6-3, 6-3 over Norrie and added to his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo last month.

“I felt in good shape from the beginning of the tournament,” the No.2 seed said. “I am proud of today’s match. I knew it would be a difficult one against Cameron who has been showing great tennis this week.

“He has been winning against good players and showing what the left hand can do on clay… I had to handle the nerves and I am proud of my performance and the way I stayed focused towards my goal.”

Norrie had downed the likes of Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov during the week to reach his third tour final. He also fell in the Estoril title decider on clay earlier this month to Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Gauff doubles up in Parma

Meanwhile, American teenager Coco Gauff continued her red-hot run on the clay courts of Italy as she backed up her first WTA 1000-level semi-final in Rome with a second career trophy in Parma on Saturday.

The 17-year-old easily accounted for China’s Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-3 to add to the title she landed in 2019 as a lucky loser in Linz. Not content to raise one white urn as champion, she added the doubles trophy later on Saturday with good friend Caty McNally.

“It definitely means a lot, especially on clay, which is not really a surface I feel like people associate with me,” Gauff said.

“I always liked [clay], but I always fall on it, I always get dirty. I have good results on it, so it’s not about my performance, it’s just that clay shows you a little extra love than the other surfaces do.”

Having prevailed in 20 of her past 26 matches, Gauff – who had already assured herself a seeding at a Grand Slam for the first time – is projected to rise to No.25 in the new rankings on Monday.

Swiss delight for Ruud

Fifteen months after he became the first Norwegian to land a tour title, Casper Ruud was back at it on his favourite surface in Geneva.

In a battle of 22-year-olds chasing their second tour titles, the third seed did not face a break point in his upset of world No.15 Denis Shapovalov, 7-6(6), 6-4.

It continued a favourable run of results on the terre battue, having notched semi-final showings in Monte-Carlo, Munich and Madrid.

“It feels great that I’ve been playing well lately and reaching the later stages in my past tournaments,” Ruud said. “It is a big confidence-booster ahead of Roland-Garros… I’ll get a good week of practice before Roland-Garros starts.

“I think that'll be important to keep the intensity up and the focus up. In one way, [I’ll] try to pretend that this never happened in the sense that you need to work hard every day, in the coming days to Paris… It feels as good to win today as it did in Buenos Aires [in 2020]. I was more mature this week, knowing that I won a title before.”

Badosa's maiden success

One of the most in-form women on clay right now, Paula Badosa, landed a trophy to show for her efforts on Saturday – her first, no less – at the Serbia Ladies Open.

The Spaniard improved her ledger to 13-2 on clay for the season with wins over Roland-Garros 2019 champion and world No.1 Ashleigh Barty to reach the Charleston semi-finals before the Australian had revenge in the Madrid semi-finals. In Belgrade, she landed the title when Croatian qualifier Ana Konjuh retired with a hip injury while Badosa led 6-2, 2-0.

“I’m super happy and super proud of myself. I played a good level all the week and was feeling quite well,” said Badosa, who won the Roland-Garros junior title back in 2015. “I know it wasn’t easy because sometimes the draw was getting, I was getting a little bit [more the] favourite, so that mentally was a little bit tough for me, but I think I managed those nerves and that pressure pretty well. 

“I’m really, really happy I could win my first WTA title. I’ve been chasing this since a long time, so finally I have it here with me… I’m super motivated for Roland-Garros, as well. I think I’m playing at a very good level.”