Çağla Büyükakçay wins historic WTA title in Istanbul on home soil
Turkish tennis player Cağla Büyükakçay became the first Turkish player to win a WTA tournament following a victory over Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the final of the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup International Women’s tournament on April 24.
Büyükakçay, 26, defeated 21-year-old Kovinic 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 at Garanti Koza Arena in Istanbul.
“I can’t express my feelings at the moment,” she told reporters after clinching the final. “Actually I was feeling kind of shocked after yesterday’s match. Today I felt more comfortable. But closer to the end I was really excited.”
Speaking about the final match point in which she finally won the match, Büyükakçay said: “At that moment I was feeling like I’ve never played tennis before. I was shaking completely. But then I realized that the match was continuing. Even if I lost, the match would continue. That’s why I thought point by point.”
Turkey’s first-ever WTA singles champion stated: “Throughout the week, serves helped me a lot. Especially on break points and in the second set, I had a good serving performance. Danka is a player who tries to get every ball, and never gives up. She returned nearly all my serves. I needed at least 5-6 shots to conclude the points. It wasn’t easy at all.”
Büyükakçay, who made her Istanbul Cup debut at the age of 15, lost the first set 6-3 against a focused Kovinic but made a good start in the second. The top Turkish player led 4-1 with an important break and defended her pivotal lead until the end. After levelling the match at one set apiece with a 6-2 win in the second set, Büyükakçay got the early break in the third set, which increased excitement at the Garanti Koza Arena.
Kovinic tried to come back with several good shots, but a revitalized Büyükakçay saved important break points on her serve, refusing to allow her opponent to catch-up.
Büyükakçay easily built a 40-0 lead on serve for the championship at 5-3, but Kovinic took three points in a row. Surrounded by screams of “Haydi!” the 26-year old closed out the game on her fifth match point with a sensational forehand.
Büyükakçay became the first-ever WTA titlist – in singles or doubles – in Turkish tennis history and clinched another achievement, becoming the first Turkish woman to break into the WTA singles top 100 by setting a new career-high at 82nd on April 25.