Greta The Great Conquers Estoril
Published May 06, 2007 12:00
ESTORIL, Portugal - She was one of the lowest-ranked players in the main draw - in fact, she wasn't even seeded in the qualifying tournament. But Greta Arn never stopped believing, and on Sunday afternoon the 28-year-old finally captured her career-first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title at the Estoril Open, beating out Belarussian teenager Victoria Azarenka in a nail-biting three set final, 26 61 76(3).
Arn, who had figured her way out of three qualifying matches, as well as four more in the main draw, dramatically changed her approach after getting overpowered in a lopsided, 35-minute first set. She started mixing up her shots, throwing in more topspin and slice; the plan worked, and soon the two were headed for a third set.
The momentum continued early in the decider as Arn quickly went ahead 3-0; but Azarenka adjusted and began hitting the mark again on her big groundstrokes. She took five of the next six games and held two match points whilst leading 5-4; but again the momentum shifted. Arn weathered it all and eventually took the title, closing the two-hour, 22-minute ordeal out in a tie-break.
"I won today with my experience," Arn declared. "I tried to give her the balls she wouldn't like, high balls to keep her out of rhythm. She is young and she made some mistakes that an older, more experienced player probably wouldn't make."
"She was very consistent and tough and got me out of my game," Azarenka said. "I am disappointed; I can't bring it back, though I wish I could. I was so nervous because it was my first chance for a title. I need experience on how to handle it."
As an unseeded player, Azarenka made an unlikely run herself in Estoril. She had a pair of impressive wins over seeds, No.2 seed Francesca Schiavone and No.3 seed Lucie Safarova, and also put out two players that barely missed out on the seeds, Virginie Razzano and last week's Budapest champion Gisela Dulko. The Belarussian could have become the youngest player this season to capture a title.
Both Arn and Azarenka were contesting their first finals; not such a stretch for a 17-year-old up-and-comer, but quite a notable feat for the veteran Arn, whose best showing at a Tour event prior to this past week was a quarterfinal run at Basel in 2001. She is the most unlikely singles titlist on the Tour so far this year now - the lowest-ranked (she came in at No.176) and the first qualifier.
"The feeling you can not explain," Arn added. "I am happy and just enjoying it. It's so nice. You start believing in yourself more and more, and it is just such a positive feeling; positive feelings change you."
The Romanian-Russian combo of Andreea Ehritt-Vanc and Anastasia Rodinova captured the doubles title on Saturday, taking out Lourdes Domínguez Lino and Arantxa Parra Santonja comprehensively, 63 62. It is the second Tour doubles trophy for both women; they won their firsts with other partners.