BUYUKAKCAY CAPS HISTORIC WIN IN ISTANBUL
ISTANBUL, Turkey – Unseeded Cagla Buyukakcay’s fairytale week at the TEP BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup came to a thrilling conclusion when the hometown favorite recovered from a set down to defeat No.5 seed Danka Kovinic, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
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“It’s an incredible week for me to win the title at home, to break into the Top 100 with this tournament, to play against someone with my crowd,” she said after the match. “It was an amazing atmosphere today. I was playing better and better every day, but of course every day is another day, so I didn’t expect to win at the beginning of the week. I’m so excited and so happy for today.
“It’s an amazing feeling. Of course, I was always dreaming to play well in Grand Slams, to win titles at big tournaments. This is a tournament I’ve been playing since 2005, when I was 15, and I saw the best players at this tournament when I was young. So I dreamed of winning the title since then; it’s very special for me.”
Set to crack the Top 100 for the first time in her career, Buyukakcay was making history with every win this week in Istanbul, becoming the first Turkish woman to reach a WTA semifinal, then a final, and against Kovinic, the first Turkish WTA titlist in history.
“You’re a great person, a great friend, and a great player,” she said in her on-court acceptance speech, addressing Kovinic. “I’m sure you have much more to achieve in your career.”
In front of an enthusiatic home crowd, the 26-year-old gained revenge for her straight-sets loss to the Montenegrin two weeks ago at the Volvo Car Open, saving 10 of 12 break points faced during the two hour, 23 minute final.
“In the beginning of the set, I was feeling tired, but the crowd was cheering a lot, so I was trying to motivate myself too. In the second set, I told myself, ‘I don’t have anything to lose; I have to play more aggressively and better than in the first set. I have to take some risks.’
“I told myself, ‘Enjoy the time,’ because last year, when I was watching the ATP event, it was packed because of Federer. Today, I knew it would be packed because of me, and I told myself, ‘It’s such a big honor for me to pack a stadium.’”
Surviving several long games early in the decider, Buyukakcay looked on course to wrap up the match in decisive fashion when she raced out to 40-0 at 5-3, but treated the full house at the Garanti Koza Arena to a tense ending when she finally closed out her biggest-ever win on her fifth championship point.
“As I think everyone could see, I was really tired today,” Kovinic said after the match. “I really wanted to win this one, but it wasn’t enough because my body couldn’t follow my mind.
“In the end, I’m a bit disappointed but I wasn’t 100% fit today.”
Walking away with the runners-up trophy, Kovinic wasn’t done for the day; the 21-year-old was set to partner fellow No.3 seed Xenia Knoll in the doubles final later on Sunday; following a lengthy on-court concert, Kovinic was forced to withdraw due to a left hamstring injury, handing the title to hometown favorite in Ipek Soylu, the unseeded 20-year-old who reached the final alongside Romania’s Andreea Mitu.