BELGRADE (Reuters) - Rising Serbian tennis prodigy Olga Danilovic is ready to shine on the big stage after winning her maiden WTA title in stunning fashion.
Danilovic became the first lucky loser from the qualifiers and the first player born in this millennium to win a WTA trophy after beating Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in a dramatic Moscow Open final on Sunday.
“I said last year I was ready to turn professional and I really don’t see myself playing junior tournaments any more,” the 17-year-old told a news conference in the Serbian capital.
“Some plans have now changed and I will definitely aim for bigger tournaments with higher ambitions. I’ve been bracing myself for this for some time.
“I still haven’t slept and what I have achieved still hasn’t sunk in. I need a few days to clear my head.”
Having lost to Spaniard Paula Badosa Gibert in the final round of the qualifiers, Danilovic was on her way to the airport for a return flight to Belgrade with her mother when the organisers asked her to re-enter the tournament.
The daughter of Serbia’s former trophy-laden basketball player Predrag Danilovic, who had stints with NBA teams Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, then staged one upset after another en route to the trophy.
Her victims included Germany’s world number 10 Julia Goerges in the quarter-finals and she also fought back in the third set to beat home crowd favourite Potapova in the final.
Showing her father’s on-court tenacity and willpower akin to her more illustrious compatriot Novak Djokovic, the left-handed Danilovic hammered in a barrage of spectacular winners which cancelled out a flurry of unforced errors.
The tearful youngster embraced her mother, a Serbian state television presenter, after the 7-5, 6-7(1) 6-4 win as she was cheered on by a contingent of Serbian fans.
“Every match in Russia was tough,” she said.
“We both left it all out there in the final. We’ve been close friends for a long time and sharing the court with (Potapova) was a pleasure.
“I hope we will both play in many finals in the future.”
If the breathtaking performances in Moscow are anything to go by, Danilovic - who has soared 75 places up the rankings to number 112 on the WTA tour, has a bright future.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar