Flavia Victorious in Viña del Mar
Published Feburary 17, 2008 12:00
VIÑA DEL MAR, Chile - Although it may not have had a fairytale finish, Flavia Pennetta's title run in Viña del Mar was definitely another successful chapter for one of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's best clay courters. After reaching the final without dropping a single set, Pennetta had the dubious honor of capturing the trophy on a 64 54 retirement victory over Klara Zakopalova.
Pennetta, who was the top seed and a heavy favorite at the inaugural Cachantun Cup, breezed through all four of her pre-final matches with the loss of only 16 games, including beating No.7 seed Kaia Kanepi 63 63 in the quarterfinals and routing No.4 seed Pauline Parmentier 62 60 in the semifinals. Her championship match with No.8 seed Zakopalova was evolving into her closest; but serving for the trophy at 64 54, 15-0, her Czech oppponent fell and injured her left ankle, and wouldn't be able to continue.
"It always feels better to play the last point and have the sensation of winning, but this happens," Pennetta said. "It was an incredible week for me. I felt really comfortable all week here in Viña del Mar. Thanks to the men's tournament, I think they really knew what the players wanted this week. I give it a 10!"
The 2008 Viña del Mar trophy is the Pennetta's fifth, joining 2004 Sopot, 2005 Bogotá, 2005 Acapulco and 2007 Bangkok in her cabinet. With the exception of Bangkok last autumn, they have all come on clay.
Pennetta has been one of the best players during the Latin American clay court season in the past, and with her five wins this week has improved her win-loss record to 38-8. She is 14-4 lifetime in Bogotá (she was the champion in 2005 and a runner-up in 2006), 19-5 in Acapulco (champion in 2005 and runner-up in 2004, 2006 and 2007) and now 5-0 here in Viña del Mar.
This was Zakopalova's ninth career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles final and she is now 2-7 in those. She started with a five-final losing streak but improved to 2-6 after a breakout 2005 season, where she won 's-Hertogenbosch, finished runner-up at Palermo and then won Portoroz.
"I was very happy to make it to the final this week," Zakopalova stated. "Flavia deserved to win; she was playing better than me. I'm not really sure how I fell. I think I was expecting a forehand and was running towards it, but then she hit a backhand and I had to change directions, and I slipped and fell."
The week was half-full of surprises in Viña del Mar. The top half of the draw was true to form, with all four seeds reaching their projected quarterfinal berths and Pennetta and Parmentier squaring off for a spot in the final. But down below it was a much different story, with Zakopalova being the only seed to make it to her quarterfinal berth - No.3 seed Emilie Loit was bounced in the first round, No.2 seed Gisela Dulko pulled out of the event after winning her first round match due to a left hamstring strain, and No.6 seed Sara Errani was ousted in the second round. Mariya Koryttseva would emerge as Zakopalova's semifinal hurdle, only to be vanquished in straight sets.
The doubles final was played on Saturday afternoon and it was Liga Dekmeijere and Alicja Rosolska who prevailed against Koryttseva and Julia Schruff, 75 63. It was the first Tour title of any kind for both Dekmeijere and Rosolska, who were responsible for bouncing the tournament's highest seeds - Iveta Benesova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands - en route to the final.