Pennetta Reclaims Acapulco Crown
Published March 01, 2008 12:00
ACAPULCO, México - Flavia Pennetta came up one win short the last two years but she wouldn't be denied this year, clinching the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presented by HSBC singles trophy after a 60 46 61 championship win over French teenager and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final first-timer Alizé Cornet.
Pennetta has had a love affair with Acapulco from the beginning. She got all the way to the quarterfinals here in her tournament debut in 2003 and went on to reach the final each of the next four years, winning it all in 2005 and finishing as the runner-up in 2004 (to Iveta Benesova), 2006 (to Anna-Lena Groenefeld) and a year ago (to Emilie Loit).
Seeded No.1 this year she reached a fifth final with little resistance, not losing a set in victories over Ekaterina Bychkova, Julia Schruff, No.8 seed Edina Gallovits and No.7 seed Kaia Kanepi; and in only one of those matches did she surrender more than four games in a set, during a 76(4) 61 victory over Gallovits in the quarterfinals, which was also her 300th career singles match win.
The Italian appeared headed for her easiest victory of the week as she blew past an erratic Cornet in the first set, 6-0, then broke to lead 4-3 in the second set. The No.2-seeded Cornet rediscovered her form, reeling off three games in a row to push the match to a third; but Pennetta wouldn't allow it to slip away, winning eight of the first 10 points and 16 of the last 18 in a 24-minute, third set rollover.
"I think I started the match very well, focusing really hard and not making many mistakes, just lots of winners," Pennetta said afterwards. "But in the second set I started thinking about the victory and got a little nervous. I sat down after the second set and thought about what I needed to do to take control of the match again, and I just tried to focus like I did in the first set."
"She played unbelievably in the first set and in the second set she started making some mistakes; I felt I was getting into the match at that point and was fighting in every game, but she played the third set like the first and that's why she won," Cornet said. "Maybe she was nervous in the second set, but she recovered."
Cornet had a similar path to Saturday night's final, being tested once but racing through her other contests. She claimed a 75 63 win against Jelena Kostanic Tosic in the first round but lost a total of just 10 games across her three other match-ups, including a 62 62 semifinal win over American Jill Craybas. She had never before made a Tour final, two quarterfinals - at Acapulco and Fès last season - being her best career finishes coming into this week.
"It's disappointing to lose today; I felt pretty far away from the victory," Cornet added. "But I think Flavia deserved to win today. This is such a nice tournament so I hope I can come back next year."
Looking further into her previous record in Latin America, Pennetta has had by far her biggest successes right here in Acapulco, improving to 24-4 lifetime in the Mexican city with her victory today. Her success in Latin America isn't limited to this venue though - she has claimed two other titles during this season before, at Bogotá in 2005 and at Viña del Mar two weeks ago.
"I'm so happy about this match and this tournament," Pennetta added. "It is an incredible sensation, nothing more. This is just perfect."
Just before the singles final was the doubles final, and it was Spanish duo Nuria Llagostera Vives and María José Martínez Sánchez that earned the title, beating Czechs Benesova and Petra Cetkovska, 62 64. Llagostera Vives' last two weeks has been formidable; she won her second Tour singles title a week ago in Bogotá and now comes away with her fourth Tour doubles title (Martínez Sánchez comes away with her fifth).