Chakvetadze Claims Cincy Crown
Published July 22, 2007 12:00
CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Just like she had been doing all week, Anna Chakvetadze came through when it really mattered, shrugging off somewhat messy quarterfinal and semifinal victories and summoning her best in the final of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open, stopping the run of Akiko Morigami in the final, 61 63.
Despite being a heavy favorite on paper coming into the event, the No.1-seeded Chakvetadze overcame some slow starts in her first two rounds then got pushed to three sets by both of her next two opponents, No.6 seed Elena Vesnina and No.3 seed Sania Mirza. But she managed to get through those and looked sharp from all angles against No.7 seed Morigami, claiming the first set in just 26 minutes and overcoming an early 2-0 hole to win the second set.
"I didn't expect it to be so easy; I think she was tired, because she had a tough match yesterday," Chakvetadze said. "I was trying to play every point very concentrated, because the last few days have been really up and down. If it had been like that today it would be really tough because she doesn't make easy mistakes and runs very fast. My game plan was to move her, make her run and be more aggressive."
"I was really disappointed in how I played today; I wasn't executing my shots and didn't what I wanted to do out there," Morigami said. "I feel like I missed so many balls. Even though I was up 2-0 in the second set that was just because she made a few errors. I tried to find my game at that point but it never happened."
Chakvetadze was 4-0 in finals coming into Cincinnati, and with this win improves to 5-0. She won her first two career titles at Guangzhou and Moscow last year and has already won three this year, at Hobart, 's-Hertogenbosch and now here.
"When I came here I started hearing about being 4-0 in finals and that's just great," Chakvetadze said. "Today I think I played better than I did yesterday because it was a final. I always try to improve my game for a final because it's just a more important match."
There was also another perfect record on the line going into Sunday's match, but it wasn't something in Chakvetadze's favor. Morigami had won all three of their previous meetings, including on summer hardcourts at San Diego in 2005.
"Those three matches both of us played pretty well," Morigami said, "but Anna's definitely a different player than a few years ago. The difficult thing about playing her is that she changes the direction every other ball, so I had to run side to side all the time. I tried to mix things up, but really just couldn't do it today."
But Morigami's run to the final was a popular one with the Cincinnati crowds who witnessed her saving match point in her first match against Camille Pin before making it all the way to the final, upsetting No.2 seed and former champion Patty Schnyder along the way. It was her third career final, having been a runner-up here to Schnyder in 2005 and capturing the clay court title in Prague in May.
"It has definitely been a good week for me although I was disappointed to have played like this in the finals," the Japanese continued. "Beating Patty gives me a lot of confidence though. Anna was just too good. I give her a lot of credit."
Having won five Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles and secured her place in the Top 10 already, Chakvetadze's goals are being reset higher and higher.
"My goal is to get better and win a Grand Slam; every player wants to win one, and I'm one of them," the 20-year-old Muscovite said. "A lot of things have to come together for me to win one though. You need a good draw and should be healthy and in good shape. I've made it to the quarterfinals twice already so I think I can do it. That's my goal now."
While Chakvetadze and Morigami stole the show in Cincinnati by reaching the final, another player gained a whole new set of fans as she made a surprising run to the semis. Qualifier Akgul Amanmuradova, whose serve alone made her one of the most dangerous players out there this past week, made it all the way to the semifinals before bowing out to Morigami in three entertaining sets.
The doubles went to No.1 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sania Mirza, who beat Alina Jidkova and Tatiana Poutchek, 76(4) 75. The teams stayed close throughout the match, except for a small 3-1 second set lead for Jidkova and Poutchek that evaporated almost as quickly as it materialized. In the end, Mattek-Sands won her second Tour doubles title, and Mirza won her fifth (and second of the year).
"We are a really good mixture," Mattek-Sands said. "We're both solid on the baseline and Sania has a good forehand, so it opens up the court. Same with our serves."
"We played better matches this week, but we're still happy to win," Mirza said. "I have to get along with somebody off the court to play with them; Bethanie and I are a good team."