SEOUL, South Korea - Caroline Wozniacki made a much-awaited return to the WTA winner's circle Sunday afternoon, unleashing a 61 60 victory on Kaia Kanepi to conquer the $500,000, International-level KDB Korea Open.
Both players were pushed to 6-4 in the third set in the semifinals the day before, so a rebound was key - and it was the No.1-seeded Wozniacki who unlocked the door, needing just 62 minutes to completely overwhelm the No.3-seeded Kanepi, allowing her just one hold of serve in the fifth game of the match.
"Yesterday was a very difficult match, but the final is the final, and you just do anything you can to win," Wozniacki said. "Today I did well at turning defense to offense and offense to defense. That's actually a strength of mine.
"I'm very pleased with how everything turned out."
Wozniacki was ranked No.1 in the world as recently as the Australian Open fortnight earlier this year, but is now down at No.11 - but could a first WTA title since New Haven last August signal a turnaround for the tenacious Dane?
"I don't really think about the ranking - I'm just happy I won the tournament," Wozniacki said. "I want to enjoy it and be positive - so that's what I'm thinking about right now. I want to build up for the next season and hopefully my results this week will help me move forward and get back to playing my best."
Though she didn't end up with the title, Kanepi's run to the final was encouraging to say the least - the Estonian had pulled out of all 10 of her tournaments between the French Open and this week with a bilateral Achilles injury, then powered through her first four matches back, the first three in straight sets.
"My season has definitely had its ups and downs because of my injuries, but last year was the same, and my whole career has been a little bit up and down as well," Kanepi said on Saturday. "It's nothing new and I'm used to it."
Wozniacki and Kanepi will fly to Tokyo now for this week's Toray Pan Pacific Open. They are seeded No.10 and No.15 there, respectively, and will open against Bojana Jovanovski and Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, respectively.
The doubles final saw No.1 seeds Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears rally from a first set blowout to beat Akgul Amanmuradova and Vania King in a match tie-break, 26 62 108. Kops-Jones and Spears won their fourth WTA doubles title together, having won International-level titles at Estoril in 2009 and Québec City in 2011 and a Premier-level title at Carlsbad this year.
Kops-Jones now has six WTA doubles titles to her name, Spears eight.
The KDB Korea Open was even more of a world class tournament in 2012 than it ever had been, not only more than doubling its prize money from 2011 - from $220,000 to $500,000 - but also using the Hawkeye line calling system for the first time. The tournament began in 2004 and next year will be its 10th year.
"The tournament is being promoted with a prize money increase and a title change," Tournament Director Lee Jin-Soo said earlier this year. "This is a stepping stone to going from an International-level tournament to Premier-level.
"We plan to make it the No.1 international sports event in Korea."