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Russia’s Samsonova attributed the credit for stopping the Wimbledon championship to her intense brilliance

Russian Lyudmila Samsonova did not drop any group in Tokyo

TOKYO (AFP) – Lyudmila Samsonova said Wimbledon’s ban on Russian players gave her time to change her style of play after winning her third title in four tournaments on Sunday at the Pan Pacific Open.

The Russian, ranked 30th in the world, beat rising Chinese girl Zheng Qinwen 7-5, 7-5 to add to the titles she won in Washington and Cleveland in August, after not dropping a set all week in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old said she was “shocked” when she heard that Russian and Belarusian players would be banned from Grand Wimbledon in June and July in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

She has used the month to sharpen her game and is now reaping the benefits, having also beaten Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza this week in the Japanese capital.

I said, ‘Okay, I have one month without tournaments, so let’s work out this month,'” said the strong Samsonova, who hits between 120 and 150 workouts a day.

I used it well because I was working hard. I only had 32 days of training, which is not normal at that time of the year for a tennis player.”

Samsonova said she worked on improving her mental strength and techniques during her summer vacation, and the improvement was evident in Tokyo.

She was only broken once in the final during a doomed performance against a fast-rising Cheng.

“I was feeling better physically but mentally a bit tired,” said Samsonova, who reached the last 16 at the last US Open.

I am so happy with how I was able to press today – it is unbelievable what I did today. All week has been really great and I am really happy with my game.”

– fast rise –

The 19-year-old was making her first WTA final and knocked out Spanish seed Paula Padusa in the second round.

Cheng ranked outside the top 150 this time last year, but she has since risen to 36 and will be named in the top 30 when the latest rankings are published on Monday.

“It’s been a really good week and a good performance,” said Zing, who beat world number one Iga Swiatek in the round of 16 at this year’s French Open.

But I think I can do a lot more than that. It was an experience – it was my first time in the final.”

“I just hope next time I can come back stronger and better,” she added.

The Pan Pacific Open was held for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic.

A host of big names left early, as US Open semi-finalist Caroline Garcia of France joined Padusa in a second-round exit.

Japanese defending champion Naomi Osaka withdrew before the second round match after complaining of abdominal pain.

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