Following three years away from the professional game, Croatia’s Ana Savic made her ITF Pro Circuit comeback, and in sensational fashion!
The Turkish city of Antalya was the setting for the 22-year-old former WTA Top 300 ranked player’s tennis return with four clay court tournaments; two at the GD Tennis Academy followed by two at the Ali Bey Club Manavgat.
Her return began in the qualifying event where she recorded three straight sets wins and saw off the challenge of two seeded players. This included her first opponent in three years, Nicola Slater from Great Britain.
Facing a seeded player in her first match back could have been a rather daunting prospect but Savic blew the Brit away 61 61. Further wins of 64 60 and 63 61 would carry her into the main draw.
Savic could not have been handed a more difficult start when drawn to face the top seed, Anastasia Grymalska, in the opening round but the Croat came through a closely fought three-setter 64 57 76(3).
Having eliminated the number one seed Savic’s confidence rose and she would not drop another set all week. Following a defeat of an unseeded opponent in round two, Savic went on to play, and defeat, three seeded players in succession to claim the title.
With the title won and four of the eight seeds and three of the top four seeds defeated en route, Savic could reflect on a wise decision to make her pro tennis return.
It now remained to be seen if this was just a one-off.
The second of her two tournaments at the GD Tennis Academy saw her again make it through to the final with the loss of just one set. This run included quarterfinal and semifinal wins over the number two and three seeds respectively.
The first of these seeded players was Anastasia Grymalska, seeded one the previous week when beaten in three sets in round one by Savic. This time her Italian opponent was defeated 75 60.
A second title in as many weeks came with a 62 46 62 win over qualifier Martina Di Giuseppe as the Italian became only the third player to take a set off Savic over the course of these two tournaments.
Her only set back during the week was a quarterfinal loss with Claudia Giovine in the doubles event.
The next two tournaments for Savic took place at the Ali Bey Club Manavgat where she concentrated solely on singles play.
Savic got off to another fast start, notching up a 60 64 win over qualifier Lisa Sabino, a scoreline that would be repeated later in the tournament.
Things got a little tougher in the next two rounds where she twice had to come from behind against seeded opposition to record back-to-back 46 75 63 wins.
Her semifinal was to be a re-match of her first final at the GD Tennis Academy. Once again as fourth seed Giao Barbieri was beaten in straight sets and this set up a final against top seed Jasmina Tinjic.
The week began with a 60 64 win over a qualifier but it came as a real surprise that this score was then repeated in the final against the number one seed as Savic collected yet another title.
Had she really been away from the game for three years?
In her final tournament to close out the month, Savic, now with three singles titles under her belt from this month’s action, raced through her first round encounter with Hulya Esen, dropping just one game in each set of a straight sets win. Esen, as eighth seed, became the eleventh main draw seed to succumb to Savic since her return, but would not be the last!
A 63 62 win followed in round two to set up a match against her doubles partner from the second GD Tennis Academy tournament, Claudia Giovine. The Italian, seeded fourth, took the first set on a tiebreak but then only won four more games as Savic rallied to a 67(2) 62 62 win.
Next up to face Savic across the net was the number two seed from Serbia Teodora Mircic. The paths of these two players crossed as recently as the second round the previous week at this venue, which saw Savic come from behind to win, something she had to do once again.
Mircic took the opening set 64, just as she had the previous week, but Savic levelled the match with a 63 second set win and then in the deciding set dropped just the one game to reach her fourth consecutive final.
Lisa Sabino, who came from behind to defeat the top seed in her semifinal, provided the opposition in the title match and was looking to avenge her 60 64 first round loss to Savic here the previous week. This was not to be though as with Savic leading 5-0 in the first set, Sabino was forced to retire from the match, handing the Croatian a fourth singles title.
What a four weeks this was for the young Croat. Many coming back from a three year lay-off would have been content to ease their way back into competitive play with the odd win or two but to win four back-to-back titles was nothing short of miraculous!
Of her triumphant comeback Savic had this to say: “I'm extremely happy for making it into the Top 600 within only one month. A 20-0 win-loss record makes it even sweeter. It's a great great start for me but still there's a long way to the top and I'm planning to keep up the good work and focus on coming tournaments.”
Future opponents you have been warned!
Make no mistake people, Ana Savic is back!