Slovenian Tamara Zidansek scored the biggest win of her career when she won the $60,000 Bendigo International final on Sunday.
The 19-year-old rallied from a set down to defeat in-form Australian Olivia Rogowska 5-7, 6-1, 6-0.
Ranked 187 in the world leading into the tournament, Zidansek won her first tournament for 2017 and her first event on a hardcourt.
Zidansek said winning in Bendigo on a hardcourt was a confidence-booster ahead of the Australian summer of tennis.
“I’ve been practising on clay ever since I was a little girl and only started on hardcourts last year,’’ Zidansek said after her win.
“Most of the tournaments on the WTA (circuit) are played on hardcourts, so it’s important to know how to play on this surface.”
Zidansek, who only dropped on set on her way to the final, started the clash with Rogowska brilliantly and grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first set.
However, the more experienced Rogowska steadied the ship and reeled off the next four games.
At 5-5 the set was up for grabs and it was Rogowska who pounced. The 26-year-old’s backhand caused Zidansek trouble, she broke serve for a 6-5 lead and then served out the set 7-5.
Just when it looked like Rogowska’s experience was going to be a crucial factor in the final, Zidansek took over the match.
Her powerful serve and forehand took over in the second set.
The teenager only needed 20 minutes to level the match with a 6-1 scoreline.
The opening game of the deciding set proved to be pivotal.
Zidansek continued to pressure Rogowska’s serve, but the Aussie fought gallantly.
Rogowska saved five break points and had a couple of game points herself before Zidansek finally broke through to break serve at his sixth opportunity.
That game seemed to break Rogowska’s confidence as well as her serve.
She didn’t win another point on her serve as Zidansek broke two more times. Fittingly, Zidansek won the title with an ace.
“In the second and third set I started to serve better and I stayed low and tried to move her around,’’ Zidansek said. “It worked out well.”
Zidansek headed to Japan on Sunday for another $60,000 ITF event, but she’ll return to Australia in late December to prepare for January’s big summer of tennis.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Rogowska. Her victory in Canberra last week, combined with her runner-up performance in Bendigo earned Rogowska a place in the main draw at the Australian Open.