Timea Babos could not have asked her season to start off in a better manner. The Hungarian opened up her campaign as a Grand Slam champion winning the women's doubles title with Kristina Mladenovic and also reached the final in the mixed doubles with partner Rohan Bopanna.
The end of January brought many smiles to Babos and so did the beginning of February after capturing her third career singles title after winning the Taiwan Open, 7-5, 6-1 over Kateryna Kozlova.
Babos Battles Back To Take Opening Set
The opening two games of the match saw a break of serve at 30 for each woman. Babos took the first hold of the match for 2-1 while Kozlova had to battle to hold her serve. The Ukrainian saved break point after the four seed dumped a forehand into the net.
Kozlova took her chance in the following service game, opening up a 0-30 lead before grabbing the game on her first break point chance of the game. A fantastic running backhand down the line followed by a cross-court backhand winner put Kozlova up 30-15. The Ukrainian held, saving another break point in the process, as she looked in control of the opening set.
The fourth seed's second love hold of the match applied some scoreboard pressure on Kozlova, who at 23, was in her first tour-level final. The turning point in the set looked to be a 4-3, 30-0, a short ball played by Babos was quickly gotten to by Kozlova, but the Hungarian stayed home cross-court and putting a winner into the open court. Had Kozlova gone down the line, she would have had 40-0.
Despite the squandered opportunity, Kozlova still held four game points in her possession during the game but could not capitalize on any of her chances. A forehand winner from the four seed gave the break back to put Babos back in the set.
The break allowed Babos to remain sharp throughout the set. Holds for both women brought it to 6-5 with Kozlova serving for a tiebreak. The Hungarian caught a break that went her way. Up 15-30, a net cord fell onto Kozlova's side of the net to set up double set point. A missed half-volley from the Ukrainian gave the set 7-5 to Babos who had the luxury of serving to open the second to really ratchet up the pressure on Kozlova.
Babos Runs Away With Second Set For Title
Babos opened up the second set with a hold to 15, clinching the game on a lob winner of the Ukrainian. Two break points were in her hand on the first service game for Kozlova, and first-time tour-level finalist hit one long to give the four seed a quick break. Another strong hold put her up 3-0 as she looked well in control of the match now.
Kozlova finally got on the board in the fourth game but at that point it had looked too little too late for the Ukrainian. Babos bumped her lead up to 4-1 and was all over the Kozlova serve once again with three break points in hand to get the chance to serve for the match.
A backhand winner down the line gave the fourth seed a commanding 5-1 lead as Kozlova could not do much after a grueling opening set. One championship point was all Babos needed as a beautifully placed kick serve ace sealed the title.