Unseeded nineteen-year-old Diana Shnaider beat Zhu Lin 6-3 2-6 6-1 to win her first WTA Tour title in front of a sell-out crowd at the Thailand Open presented by E@ on Sunday.
The big-hitting teenager has enjoyed a run of impressive results this week in Hua Hin, including wins over top seed Magda Linette in the first round, former World No.2 Paula Badosa, third seed Xinyu Wang and then, finally, Lin Zhu, who was second seed and defending champion.
Shnaider started the final with powerful confidence, hitting freely and using her tricky left-handed serve to great effect. She showed few signs of nerves despite the occasion and the stature and experience of her opponent. When her level dropped and Lin Zhu took control of the second set, Shnaider might have crumbled. Instead she broke in the opening game of the decider and never looked back.
“This honestly feels like a Grand Slam for me. The people, the energy are unbelievable here,” said Shnaider, who sportingly led the crowd in applause for Zhu as part of her acceptance speech.
Zhu was philosophical in defeat, despite her disappointment at not defending the title she won in Hua Hin a year ago. “Even though I didn’t get the trophy this time it’s still been a very positive week for me,” said Zhu. “She just played incredible tennis,” said Zhu. “I think I did everything I could today. There is nothing that I could have done more. I think she was really playing well today.”
Top seeds Aldida Sutjadi of Indonesia and Miyu Kato of Japan beat second seeds Xinyu Jiang and Hanyu Guo 4-6 6-1 10-7 in a final set match tiebreaker for the 2024 Thailand Open doubles title. In a close match, the Chinese pair led the match tiebreaker 4-1 before Sutjadi and Kato fought back to win their third WTA Tour title together.
“It’s definitely a good start for the year – finally because we had a rough start in Australia, losing first round in our first three tournaments. We decided to come here and we did well here so it’s a big positive for us,” Sutjadi.
The popular pair had a lot of support through the week, which reflected Hua Hin’s international blend. “Everyone has been very supportive here. It helps us a lot. It’s not even just the Indonesians and the Japanese, but also a lot of Thais and even some Americans we met in the market, who came to every match that we played here.”
The week may have ended with disappointment for Guo and Jiang but they too can take good memories away from Hua Hin. “We had a wonderful week,” Guo told the crowd in her runners-up speech. “I really like this court. I think it’s the most beautiful court in the world.”
Thailand Open presented by E@ is supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.