Million Dollar Win for Radwanska
Published May 24, 2008 12:00
ISTANBUL, Turkey - Despite the early signs pointing to a totally different result, Agnieszka Radwanska prevailed in the final of the Istanbul Cup, crushing top seed and defending champion Elena Dementieva in straight sets, 63 62, for the title.
Having lost in the round of 16 at all four of her other clay court tournaments of the year - at Amelia Island, Charleston, Berlin and Rome - Radwanska's clay court prowess may have been questionable coming into Istanbul. And although she won her first match of the week by a double bagel she struggled in the quarterfinals and semis, including rallying from 4-2 down in the third against Andreja Klepac and going to three sets again against Tsvetana Pironkova. But once she got through those tests and was in the final battle, everything came together.
Dementieva started strongly in the final, bursting ahead 2-0 and holding two points for 3-0 when Radwanska fell behind 15-40 on her serve. But the Polish teenager rebounded to win 11 of the next 13 games to lead 63 51. Things were dodgy in that game as Dementieva, known for her comebacks, saved two match points to hold for 63 52; but Radwanska served it out at 15 in the next game.
"In the warm-up I couldn't put the ball in the court because I was so nervous, so the first few games were more like my warm-up," Radwanska said. "Then I started playing my game and being more aggressive. After winning the first set I won the first few games of the second set and things got better, and I did it."
"Against Agnieszka you have got to be really concentrated and really focused, because she has a great defensive game and the ball will probably come back," Dementieva said. "She didn't miss much from the ground and she did really well at the net today too; she just played really well."
Radwanska maintained her perfect record in Sony Ericsson WTA Tour finals, now 3-0 with titles coming at Stockholm last summer, Pattaya City earlier this season and now Istanbul. She is even perfect in doubles finals, having won this title a year ago with young sister, Urszula. And by virtue of $30,500 winner's cheque, she is the first Polish player on the Tour to pass $1 million in career earnings.
Radwanska also becomes the sixth player to win multiple Tour singles titles this season, after Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Justine Henin and Flavia Pennetta. Sharapova and Williams each hold three titles.
Dementieva had been 7-0 in Istanbul coming into the final, having gone 4-0 to win the title last year and 3-0 en route to this final. She fell to 9-13 in finals in her career, having also lost her last title match at Berlin, just a few weeks ago (to Dinara Safina). Additionally, she is now 2-5 in finals on this surface, those two titles coming at Amelia Island in 2003 and right here a year ago.
"I really wanted to defend my title, I really wanted to win; maybe that's why I wasn't able to concentrate so well on fighting on the court," Dementieva added. "But although I don't feel I played that well, I give her all the credit for playing a great match. She was doing all of the right things."
The doubles final was a one-hour demolition, with No.3 seeds Jill Craybas and Olga Govortsova crushing Marina Erakovic and Polona Hercog, 61 62. Craybas holds three Tour doubles titles now, having already won at Madrid in 2003 (with Liezel Huber) and Cincinnati in 2004 (with Marlene Weingärtner). Govortsova took home her first Tour title of any kind.
"This is my third doubles title on the Tour and it's very nice to get another win," Craybas said. "It has been a while since the last tournament I won, but this week at the Istanbul Cup has been great. The main thing this week was that we both just wanted to go out and have fun. We both have similar personalities where we are pretty relaxed on the court. Neither one of us is uptight on the court and I think that was a big key this week."
"This is my second final this year and it is nice to win my first Tour doubles title," Govortsova added. "This is the second tournament that I played with someone for the first time and did well. I played with Edina Gallovits in Charleston and we reached the finals, and here with Jill I won. Jill is a very good player and was fun to play with. Hopefully we can team up again."