by Florian Heer
The magical run of Noma Noha Akugue continues at the Hamburg European Open. The 19-year-old hometown hero has reached her first final on the WTA Tour. In front of an enthusiastic crowd on Center Court, Noha Akugue dismantled World No. 101 Diana Shnaider 6-3, 6-3 on Friday afternoon. The 207th-ranked teenager from Reinbek saved all six break points she faced and capitalized on three of her own seven break-point chances to secure victory in one hour and 18 minutes.
“I can’t believe it. I am so happy and speechless. Thanks to everyone who came out to support me. That’s my first final. Thanks to Sandra for the wild card, giving me the opportunity to play here,” Noha Akugue told Barbara Schett during her post-match on-court interview. She added about her match plan: “I tried to stick to my game, to focus on my serve and it worked.”
Noha Akugue, who captured her maiden title on the Pro Circuit at the ITF World Tennis Tour W15 event in Cairo, Egypt last year, has become the first German teenager to reach a WTA Final since Anke Huber in Filderstadt 1994.
Rus reaches first WTA final
In the meantime, a fantastic clay-court season for Arantxa Rus is getting better and better. The No. 7 seed of the WTA 250 event has reached her first tour-level final following a 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Australian qualifier Daria Saville after two hours and 27 minutes.
“It was a very tough fight, a great battle. Conditions were heavy and we had some long rallies, but I am really happy that I could make it,” said Rus after her 61st match of the season. The 32-year-old Dutch is currently ranked a career-high World No. 60, having already earned four singles titles this year.
“It has been a very good season for me so far, winning a lot of matches. I was coming to Hamburg with a lot of confidence after winning a WTA 125 title in Contrexeville a few weeks ago. Of course, I am a bit tired, but I am having my physio with me and the atmosphere here helps with the energy.”
Rus practices in Spain but her forename is not connected to the one of former World No. 1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, who arrived in Hamburg this morning to take part in the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) on Saturday.
“It’s very nice to play in front of a legend,” said Rus. “I do not know her personally, but my coach Julian Alonso does. That’s why she was sitting next to him today. My parents just liked the name and that’s why they named me Arantxa.”
Rus and Noha Akugue will meet for the first time. The Hamburg European Open women’s championship match is scheduled for Saturday, 1:30 pm local time.