France's Fiona Ferro defeated Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-2 7-5 to clinch the Palermo Ladies Open on Sunday, becoming the first WTA champion in five months. The tournament was the first event to be held since the sport's shutdown following the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After winning the second title of her career, the 23-year-old, "I think it was my best match of the week. "I was feeling relaxed... I don't know why because it was a final! I wasn't really feeling pressure."

Gaining Further Momentum

Ferro went 10 matches unbeaten in regional exhibition events after the Tour was suspended in March, and continued to gather further momentum with five more wins in Palermo this week as major tennis returned in the Sicilian capital.

Fiona Ferro
Fiona Ferro Wikimedia Commons

Several exhibition events have taken place globally since the sport was halted in early March due to the pandemic but the women's claycourt tournament in Palermo was the first across both the elite WTA and ATP tours in five months. There were strict health protocols, including a limited number of fans and no handshakes between players after the match.

Making Her Top-50 Debut

Players and officials underwent COVID-19 tests every four days and one player who tested positive pulled out of the tournament last weekend. "I had a good intensity throughout the whole match, I didn't miss a lot, made a lot of winners, so I'm really happy to have the trophy with me," said the Belgian-born Ferro.

She struck 51 winners and broke Kontaveit's serve five times in a clinical display as she clinched the title on her second match point. The result ensures Ferro will make her world top-50 debut at number 44 when the latest WTA rankings are released on Monday. Estonia's Kontaveit, ranked 22nd, has now lost five of the six finals she has contested.

(With inputs from agencies)