Veronika Kudermetova and Anastasia Potapova won the trophy
Potapova defeated Kudermetova in the final and won her first career title. This third week of April can without a doubt be called a Russian week in tennis. Five out of 16 semifinalists of four tournaments on women’s and men’s tours represented our country – although they were deprived of the national flag and anthem. Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov made it to the top four at the ATP250 in Belgrade, Anastasia Potapova and Veronika Kudermetova at the WTA250 in Istanbul, and Ludmila Samsonova at the WTA 500 in Stuttgart. It has been a long time since the Russian tennis players gave our fans such an emotional and combative weekend.
Karen Khachanov could not use his advantage in the match against the 1st racket of the world Novak Djokovic. The Russian led 1-0 in sets, but lost. Andrei Rublev confidently cope with the Italian Fabio Fognini and made it to the final, where he will play with Djokovic. But in Istanbul both of our semifinalists defeated their difficult opponents and on Sunday they played the Russian final in Turkey. Anastasia Potapova overcame Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan and Veronica Kudermetova stopped last year’s Champion Sorana Cirstia of Romania.
In Stuttgart the real sensation was the performance of 23-year-old Ludmila Samsonova. In the second round match the Russian defeated the former world number one Karolina Pliszkova – it was the first victory of Ludmila’s career against the current top-10 player. In the semifinals, although Ludmila could not cope with the first racket of the world, Iga Swiatek, however, she managed to give a real fight and win the opening set, thus breaking the Polish player’s winning streak of 28 games. Interestingly, Samsonova was only the second player this season who defeated the current world number one. Before that American player Cory Gauff had defeated Ashley Barti in Adelaide.
Initially two Russian women – Veronica Kudermetova (the third seed) and Varvara Gracheva – got to the tournament in Istanbul. But after the qualification three more women were added to the main draw – Anastasia Potapova (Q), Marina Melnikova (Q) and Kamilla Rakhimova (LL). Rakhimova lost in the first round to last year’s champion Sorana Kyrsta of Romania, and Melnikova lost the Russian derby to Kudermetova. Gracheva was eliminated in the second round, but Potapova and Kudermetova made it to the deciding match.
Veronica is four years older than Anastasia. The girls had met once before – in the quarter-finals of Melbourne-2022 and that time Kudermetova was stronger in three sets when she became a finalist and lost in the match for the title to Simona Halep. Overall, for Veronica the final in Istanbul was already the 5th in her career, and once before she won the title – at the WTA-500 in Charleston. As for Potapova, this was her third final and the previous two she lost – in Moscow 2018 to Olga Danilovich of Serbia and in Tashkent 2018 to Margarita Gasparyan of Russia.
The more experienced Kudermetova got into the game faster and already at the beginning she led with a break – 2-1. But Potapova was not discouraged – she was fast to win back – 3:3, and in the end of the game she was the only player to win – 6:3. The second game was dictated by Anastasia. She was more often attacking and holding the ball better. Having led with two break points – 3:0, Potapova allowed the opponent to win one game, but immediately got back what she had lost – 4:1 and confidently finished the match – 6:3, 6:1 in 1 hour and 22 minutes.