HONOLULU, HI, Hawaii – Catherine Bellis completed a memorable week by upsetting top seed Zhang Shuai to lift the inaugural Hawaii Open.
Displaying poise that belied her tender years, Bellis recovered from a slow start to triumph, 6-4, 6-2, in the biggest final of her young career.
Bellis arrived in the Hawaiian capital fresh from back-to-back indoor titles on the ITF Circuit. However, the stark difference in conditions never fazed the American, who underlined her status as one of the game’s brightest talents – she is the youngest player inside the Top 100 – by winning all five matches without dropping a set.
“This is definitely the best support I’ve ever got at any tournament,” Bellis said during the trophy presentation. “I was a little nervous at first. Zhang’s done so well this year and had another great week. I want to thank my team, the fans, the tournament – this is the best day of my life!”
Zhang, who received a late wildcard into the tournament, has risen to No.23 on the back of a strong campaign, and when she captured an immediate break it looked like she would be signing off on a high.
Bellis had other ideas, sparking a run of four straight games with a hard-earned break back. This turned the tide in her favor and after little over an hour on court the teenager had arrived at match point. She made no mistake, collapsing to the floor when Zhang’s backhand found the net.