Parmentier Takes Tashkent by Storm
Published October 07, 2007 12:00
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - A relative newcomer to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, Pauline Parmentier didn't take long to make a name for herself, winning the Tashkent Open over the weekend for her first career title. In the final, she notched a straight set win over one of the game's brightest rising stars, Belarusian teenager Victoria Azarenka.
Playing in her first career final, the nerves of Parmentier were apparent, as she quickly fell behind 4-1 in the first set. She closed that deficit to 4-3 but then, in an incredible display of sportsmanship, insisted - against the overrule of the chair umpire - that a winning first serve was indeed out, and the point had to be replayed. She ended up losing her serve in that game and Azarenka went up, 5-3.
"It was out by so much," said Parmentier, who gestured around 15 centimeters with her hand. "I just couldn't take that point."
The drama heated up from there, as Azarenka built a 40-15 lead whilst serving for the set in the next game, and even had a third set point on her advantage. But it was not to be as Parmentier completed the first set resurgence with four straight games and tucked it away, 7-5.
The second set was something of a similar story to begin, with Azarenka racing to an early lead, 2-0; Parmentier again surged back, winning six straight games (and only allowing Azarenka one more game point opportunity in total) en route to a 75 62 title victory, capping the win it with a crosscourt backhand winner.
"When I was behind 5-3 in the first set I told myself to take heart and take some chances," Parmentier said. "And then when I won the first set I told myself 'Come on, you can do it.' And I'm very glad I was able to do it."
"She played very well this week; she has been very consistent," Azarenka said. "This was her best tennis of the week. But I didn't take my chances. I lost focus."
Parmentier had only really begun playing regularly at the Tour level earlier this year. A pair of Grand Slam main draws in 2005 (at Roland Garros as a wildcard and at the US Open as a qualifier) and two more stops in 2006 (at Roland Garros again as a wildcard and here in Tashkent) were her only tries before this year, and she played four more this year (including Roland Garros and the US Open).
But in the Uzbek capital she came alive, making her first Tour quarterfinal after easy wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Vesna Manasieva, then reaching the final with slightly more compelling straight set wins over Akgul Amanmuradova and Olga Govortsova. The huge forehand that gave former world No.1 Martina Hingis all sorts of trouble at the US Open was one of the keys to her week, in which she ousted the Top 3 seeds (No.2 Cibulkova, No.3 Govortsova, No.1 Azarenka).
"It has been a wonderful week for me," Parmentier commented. "I myself don't even understand how I played so well."
Helping out at the trophy ceremony - and several other activities during the week - was Russia's Anastasia Myskina, who is part Uzbek herself.
"It was a pleasure to be here; my grandmother was born in Uzbekistan and so it is really great for me to be back here," Myskina said. "I'm so glad the tournament committee invited me here. Thank you all very much."
Myskina, a former world No.2 and Roland Garros champion, has been sitting out the majority of this season due to a continuing left foot injury.
"I tried a comeback in January and then again at the French Open and you know what happened," the 26-year-old added. "I have to take it as it comes. When I get on court I can't move. I'm not planning a date to return but I'll be back."
Azarenka may have fallen but Belarus had plenty to cheer about in the doubles, as Ekaterina Dzehalevich and Anastasiya Yakimova won the title with a 26 64 107 match tie-break win over top seeds Tatiana Poutchek and Anastasia Rodionova. This is the second Tour title for Yakimova, who took the doubles in Istanbul last year with Alona Bondarenko; it is the first Tour title of any kind for Dzehalevich.