Davenport Conquers Québec City
Published November 04, 2007 12:00
QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - Lindsay Davenport capped yet another incredible week in her comeback to professional tennis on Sunday afternoon, capturing the Bell Challenge title with a runaway 64 61 championship victory over finals debutante Julia Vakulenko.
After losing just 11 games in her first three matches of the week, Davenport - who was a wildcard into the event - faced her toughest test in the semifinals, taking on No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva and prevailing in a close one, 62 67(3) 63.
But after hanging with Davenport through the first nine games of the match it was all downhill for No.3 seed Vakulenko in the final. She was broken at love to drop the set and succumbed to the increasingly-aggressive Davenport in the 22-minute second set. The American was particularly devastating on serve; she even won one game in the second set completely with aces, those four included among her 12 total for the match.
"My game plan was to serve well and just hold my serve," Davenport said. "Once I was able to break her at the end of the first set, that helped my momentum. I was focused on my serving and knew the rest of it would take care of itself."
"Definitely she served well," Vakulenko said. "It was just a really nice week, a really nice tournament. Some matches were easy and some were difficult, and I was just happy I could do my best and make it as far as I did."
Her career accomplishments including three majors, the world No.1 ranking and over $20 million in prize money, Davenport left the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at the end of last season to pursue motherhood. Having given birth to son Jagger Jonathan Leach (who was ever present in Québec City) in the summer, she would return to the Tour in Asia in September, beating the likes of Jelena Jankovic, Daniela Hantuchova and Elena Dementieva en route to the title at Bali and the semifinals of Beijing.
And now, in her third tournament back, she captures an incredible 53rd career title, and is now tied for eighth on the all-time list with Monica Seles.
"It can be a success even if you don't win a tournament; just the journey back has been greater than I could have anticipated," Davenport said. "It has been a much different experience coming back this time around - I just feel a lot less pressure, and I'm just trying to enjoy it as I go. I haven't set any goals. It's kind of undefined. Obviously things will change in Melbourne when I'm playing Justine, Venus or Serena; but I consider it a victory just going out and playing a big match, after such a great year off the court."
Her best previous results being semifinals at Canberra three years ago and at Berlin earlier this year, Vakulenko was playing the finals of a Tour event for the first time. Her path to the title bout was a mixed bag; in the second round and semifinals she was pushed deep into the third set but in her first round and quarterfinal matches she barely even dropped any games.
The breakout story of the week was clearly Julie Ditty, who, despite facing a pair of match points in the first round of qualifying, got into the main draw and upset No.6 seed Alizé Cornet - coming back from 4-1 down in the first set to win, 75 63 - en route to her career-first Tour semifinal, having never won back-to-back main draw matches in the big leagues previously. She lost to the powerful Vakulenko in Saturday's semifinals, 61 46 75.
Christina Fusano and Raquel Kops-Jones earned the doubles title with a 62 76(6) victory over No.3 seeds Stéphanie Dubois and Renata Voracova, squandering one match point at 5-4 in the second set and two more at 6-5, then fighting off a set point while down 6-5 in the tie-break en route to their first Tour titles of any kind.
"We're really happy about winning our first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour doubles title here," Fusano said. "This week has been great. We've been playing together for almost six years now and know each other's games really well. In the end, I think that helped us get the edge over our opponents today."