Bernarda Pera clinched one of the biggest victories of her to win Hamburg and afterward dedicated it to late coach Kristijan “Kiki” Schneider.
On Saturday, Pera upset first-seeded Anett Kontaveit in the Hamburg final 6-2 6-4 to lift her second WTA title.
Pera, 27, was born in Croatia but has been representing the United States since 2013.
Schneider, a Croatian coached, passed away at the age of 41 this past April after battling stomach cancer.
“I was lucky enough to be coached by him, and I want to dedicate this trophy to him and his memory,” Pera said. “I hope I can bring at least a little bit of his shine, passion and drive into the world.”
Pera pays tribute to late coach Schneider
In late April, the Croatian Tennis Federation announced the sad news.
“Kristijan Schneider has died after a serious illness. One of our most famous coaches, the favourite Kiki everywhere, lost the hardest battle against a vicious disease,” the statement read. “He was the coach of many tennis stars, such as Borna Coric and Ana Konjuh. He recently participated (supported) junior Australian Open winner Petra Marcinko, and also worked with Bernarda Pero, Olga Danilovic. Unfortunately, Kiki’s life ended prematurely, at the age of 41. Kiki, thank you for everything you gave to tennis and was what you are. We express our deepest condolences to the family in this way.”
Schneider was greatly respected among Croatian players and Borna Coric and Ana Konjuh were among players who were absolutely devastated to learn about Schneider passing away.
Three months later, Pera won back-to-back and one of the first things she did was pay respect to her ex-coach.
Pera has been playing the tennis of her life in recent weeks and on Saturday she absolutely crushed second-ranked Kontaveit.
It remains to be seen if Pera can continue her great form during the North American hard court swing.