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Putintseva beats Tomljanovic in Birmingham tennis final

BIRMINGHAM (AFP) – Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva won her first senior grass-court singles title after defeating Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 7-6 (10/8) in the final of the Birmingham WTA Tour event yesterday.

The 29-year-old’s previous two WTA tour titles had come on clay courts, in Nurnberg in 2019 and Budapest in 2021.

But yesterday she prevailed in nearly 90 minutes on court after coming from 5-3 down – and saving two set points – in the second set of the final of this warm-up event for Wimbledon.

Victory saw Putintseva become just the second unseeded Birmingham champion in the last 10 years, following Beatriz Haddad Maia’s title run of 2022.

“I don’t know what I’m feeling because I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Putintseva said afterwards.

“It’s great and it’s confusing because I’ve always been good on clay, but now all of a sudden, I’m good on grass. I’ll take that! It’s great!

“It was a great game. I started so well, and then Ajla dialled up her level to the highest.

She was playing really amazing, not giving me any time to think or to do something. The game was even in the end, and I was a bit more lucky.”

This was Tomljanovic’s first tour-level singles final in five years, with the Australian still waiting for her first title.

Even so it was a heartening week for the Australian, formerly 32 in the world rankings, after she missed most of 2023 following knee surgery and then had an operation to remove ovarian cysts.

Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva and Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic pose with their trophies. PHOTO: AFP