Chakvetadze Wins Paris, Now 7-0 in Finals
Published February 10, 2008 12:00
PARIS, France - Her perfect finals record was in danger but once again she stepped up to the task; although she lost the second set, Anna Chakvetadze regrouped in the third to defeat Agnes Szavay at the Open Gaz de France on Sunday, improving to 7-0 lifetime in Sony Ericsson WTA Tour finals.
Despite her No.1 seeding, Chakvetadze was something of a surprise finalist, considering her shaky performance in Australia and a losing head-to-head record against both Amélie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli, whom she had to face in the quarters and semis. She got past both in three sets but then had the daunting task of taking on giant-killer Szavay - and defending her flawless finals record - in Sunday's championship match.
She came out firing against the No.7 seed, winning the first four games en route to taking the first set, 6-3, and although she suffered a second set disappointment she regrouped mightily in the third, breaking away from 2-2 with four games in a row to close out her hard-hitting teen-aged opponent, 63 26 62.
"The 3-2 game in the third set was really important, because I was able to break her for 4-2 - I knew that wasn't the end and she would keep fighting, but I felt I was playing well also and knew I needed to keep concentrating and I could win," Chakvetadze said. "I had a good first set as well, but I made so many errors and had so many problems in the second set. The crowds were great though - I think they helped both of us play well today."
"The third set was a really great set; I think we were both playing really well," Szavay said. "She just wasn't giving me any unforced errors and she was playing better in the middle of the set, especially when she broke for 4-2. The 3-2 game was the most important game of the match, I think."
Chakvetadze's six previous titles came at Guangzhou and Moscow in 2006 and at Hobart, 's-Hertogenbosch, Cincinnati and Stanford last year.
"It has just happened like this; I never think about it," said Chakvetadze on the finals record. "I'm just trying to play my best tennis each game in every match and it has just happened like this. Of course I'm really happy about it. My goal is to get the final of a Grand Slam event, so I'm trying to work hard and make that happen. I think all players want to be there."
Whereas Chakvetadze's week was a rebound from a mediocre Australian season, Szavay's was even more so; after a breakout second half of 2007, which saw her surge from outside the Top 100 to inside the Top 20, the Hungarian was winless Down Under this year, suffering shock opening round losses at both Gold Coast and the Australian Open to non-Top 100 players. But this week, a rejuvenated Szavay beat some top names, like No.2 seed Daniela Hantuchova and No.4 seed Elena Dementieva, to reach her fourth career final.
"She's a good player and has a very bright future," said Chakvetadze on Szavay. "I have known her since we played juniors together so we know each other well. Last year she had a really good season, especially towards the end. I'm sure we'll be playing many more times."
Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko captured the doubles title earlier on in the day, taking out Eva Hrdinova and Vladimira Uhlirova, 61 64. The No.3 seeds cruised through the first set in just 25 minutes but had a tougher time in the second set, rallying from 2-0 down to complete a one-hour, four-minute win. It is the sisters' second straight title together, having taken Grand Slam honors at the Australian Open, just the second pair of sisters in the Open Era to win a major doubles title together (after the Williams sisters).