Zhu had only reached two semifinals on the main tour prior to this week, at Kuala Lumpur 2016 and Nanchang 2018.
At the Thailand Open, Zhu Lin continued her incredible start to 2023 by winning her first WTA Tour title by defeating Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-4 in a 1-hour, 45-minute final. By winning matches against Maria Sakkari and Venus Williams en route to the Auckland quarterfinals and the fourth round of the Australian Open last month, Zhu gave notice of her improved form. The former World No. 1 predicted Zhu might one day be a player in the Top 20 after she forced Victoria Azarenka to a third set in the Melbourne semifinals. That objective is approaching. Zhu, who entered Hua Hin at No. 54 on her career list, will enter the Top 50 for the first time next week thanks to her title run.
Zhu had only reached two semifinals on the main tour prior to this week, at Kuala Lumpur 2016 and Nanchang 2018. She had previously won one WTA 125 title, at Seoul 2021. Zhu’s record this season is now 10-3 after losing just one set in Hua Hin, to No. 3 seed Wang Xiyu in the first round. Tsurenko, a former World No. 23, who has had trouble with injuries lately, was competing in her first final since Brisbane 2019. The 33-year-old has a 10-2 overall record this season (4-2 on the tour), and her current No. 136 ranking will give her a big boost.
The two players combined for 14 serves breaks during the match, with eight for Zhu and six for Tsurenko. The final was tensely close for a large portion of the match. The Ukrainian, who was playing in her sixth WTA final compared to Zhu’s first, found her range more quickly. In the first game, Tsurenko broke and held two points for a double break of 3-0.
But Zhu managed to claw her way back into the match after claiming two close multi-deuce games, and she eventually took control at the end of the first set and the beginning of the second with more daring and inventive shotmaking. Zhu outperformed Tsurenko by a margin of 22 wins to 9, including a fizzing forehand down the line to end the opening set and a backhand crosscourt to break for 3-1 in the second.
As the final came to an end with a run of seven consecutive breaks, the final stages became a more tense affair. The rallies grew longer as both players opted for a cautious strategy. Although Zhu was unable to maintain her break advantage, she always bounced back with strong play on the return. She was serving for the championship at 5-3 when she narrowly missed a forehand on the opening championship point. After a four-deuce struggle, she was eventually broken. However, Zhu was flawless in the following game, breaking Tsurenko for the victory with three clean winners, including a backhand drive volley on her third championship point.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to the 29-year-old’s first ever WTA Tour title.
Indian Wells 2023: Elena Rybakina beats Aryna Sabalenka in final, avenges Australian Open heartbreak
Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev: Indian Wells Masters 2023 Preview, Schedule, Date, Form Guide, Head to head, Live Streaming