Birmingham Classic: Beatriz Haddad Maia battles rain and opponents to clinch title

In the end, it was a rough finish for Shuai Zhang at the Birmingham Classic on Sunday even as Beatriz Haddad Maia clinched the title in the WTA 250 event. Zhang was forced to retire mid-match, while down 4-5 in the first set with ill health. Earlier, both players played – and won – their respective semi-finals early afternoon after rain forced the entire day’s schedule on Saturday.

Both semi-finals were eventually played simultaneously on Sunday, with Haddad Maia taking on the second seed, Simona Halep, and the eighth-seeded Zhang playing the sixth-seeded Sorana Cirstea. Both players needed to play three sets with Zhang even coming from down a set in her semi-final.

Against Halep, in what was an erratic match, the Brazilian southpaw prevailed 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 14 minutes. Zhang, on the other hand, needed two hours and 10 minutes to win 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) against Hallep’s fellow Romanian.

Birmingham Classic: Beatriz Haddad Maia’s winning ways 

The final was played at 15.05 PM (local time) and it was Zhang who began the proceedings on a strong note. She broke Haddad Maia to start the match but the latter broke right back to bring the set to parity. In the seventh game, Haddad Maia secured a break on Zhang’s serve that she held long enough to try and serve it out, in the 10th game. However, Zhang who’d had to have a medical consult after the ninth game decided not to continue in the match. 

For Beatriz Haddad Maia, the Birmingham Classic’s the second title of her career and one that’s come back-to-back. Last week, the world no. 32 had won the Nottingham Open title (d. Alison Riske in the final) in what was her first final in almost five years (since the 2017 Korea Open). Now, after this week’s success, Haddad Maia’s won 10 matches on the trot and will also reach a new career-high of no. 29 in the WTA rankings, on Monday, 20th June. 

Photo Credit: LTA Twitter