WTA Washington: Ekaterina Makarova claims first title of 2017 after defeating Julia Goerges

Ekaterina Makarova displayed some great resilience and determination when she recovered from a deficit to outgun the hard-hitting Julia Goerges in the final of the Citi Open, triumphing in three sets to clinch her first WTA since 2014.

WTA Washington: Ekaterina Makarova claims first title of 2017 after defeating Julia Goerges
Ekaterina Makarova speaking at the trophy ceremony after the win | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America
Ekaterina Makarova
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Julia Goerges

The final of the Citi Open in Washington saw former Top 10 player Ekaterina Makarova recovering from a set and a break down to defeat Julia Goerges in the final, triumphing in three sets despite the German serving for the title in the second set. It was an impressive run from the Russian, who defeated top seed Simona Halep, Olympics Gold Medalist Monica Puig and fifth seed Oceane Dodin in her path to the title. Whereas, Goerges was fairly impressive as well, defeating compatriot Andrea Petkovic, sixth seed Monica Niculescu and also saving five match points in the second round to keep her tournament chances alive. This is Makarova’s first title of the year, her first since 2014, and she had not reached any quarterfinals in a WTA event before this week. For Goerges, she returns to the Top 40 having reached three finals in just a couple of months, setting herself for a seeding at the upcoming US Open.

Ekaterina Makarova and Julia Goerges pose with their respective trophies | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America
Ekaterina Makarova and Julia Goerges pose with their respective trophies | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America

Goerges strolls to the first set

Makarova made a slow start to the match as Goerges came out firing, looking solid from the first point. It was the reflected on the scoreboard as the German made the first breakthrough in the match after the Russian failed to find her first serves, going down an early break. Having the golden opportunity to break back, Makarova was unable to return any of the strong serves Goerges sent in as the former world number 12 came back from the brink to consolidate the break for a formidable 3-0 lead.

After an exchange of service holds, Makarova found herself in deep trouble as she faced yet another break point in the sixth game but she maintained her composure to narrowly hold onto her serve to keep herself in the set. Eventually, Goerges successfully served out the first set 6-3 as she continued to excel on her serve and dominated the rallies despite a slight hiccup, wasting five set points only to be sixth time lucky.

Julia Goerges in action during the final | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America
Julia Goerges in action during the final | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America

Makarova loses huge lead and Goerges came close to sealing the title

Makarova’s woes seemed to have been carried over to the second set when she fell 0-30 behind on her serve in the opening game. Nevertheless, the determined Russian put up an inspired performance to hold her serve and clinch the confidence-boosting service hold. Surprisingly, it was Goerges who was broken first in the second set as Makarova came up with an impressive backhand winner on break point to get the lead for the first time in the match.

The German had the perfect chance to return level in the third game after the former world number eight still failed to consistently find her first serves. Makarova earned yet another break point in the next game, but Goerges had nothing to lose and put in some powerful serves to fend it off, holding her serve to get on the scoreboard in the second set. The set looked to belong to Makarova when she stormed to a 5-2 lead, but Goerges had other ideas as she came up with some inspired play to rattle off four consecutive games to earn the golden opportunity to serve for the title.

Ekaterina Makarova in action during the final | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America
Ekaterina Makarova in action during the final | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America

However, nerves seemed to have gotten to her at the worst possible moment, coupled with the fact that Makarova was more aggressive in her returns, the set proceeded into a tiebreak as the Russian broke straight back. It was one-way traffic in the tiebreaker as Makarova was just too consistent for her opponent, clinching the second set within 59 minutes of play.

Makarova whitewashes the German

Everything seemed to have gone wrong for Goerges after she went up 30-0 in her opening service game in the final set as she lost four straight points to gift Makarova the early lead in the decider. Losing the rhythm in her game and getting frustrated with herself, the German found herself in deep trouble when she allowed the Russian to consolidate the break and further extended her lead by breaking serve for the third consecutive time.

Ekaterina Makarova in action during the final | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America
Ekaterina Makarova in action during the final | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America

Goerges put in her best efforts to try and close out the deficit but was only further discouraged when Makarova saved a break point in the fourth game and consolidated for a four-game lead, edging closer to the victory. Serving for the bagel and the title, Makarova did not disappoint as nerves were like a stranger to her, comfortably holding her serve to love and clinching just her third WTA title.

Makarova delighted with her win

“I don’t have a coach with me this week but I have some great supporters. It’s my Mum and my boyfriend and my friends from England, thanks for your support throughout this week, thank you so much!” Makarova was very grateful to her team and supporters during the trophy ceremony, repeatedly thanking her fans.

Both players share a warm embrace at the net | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America
Both players share a warm embrace at the net | Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images North America

“Also the crowd was just amazing and I heard a lot of Russians today” the champion proceeded to thank her Russian supporters with some nice words in Russian.

Both Makarova and Goerges would now take part in the Rogers Cup held in Toronto, with play commencing today.