Azarenka Beats Wozniacki, Wins Memphis
Published February 21, 2009 12:00
MEMPHIS, TN, USA - It was the Top 2 final everyone was waiting for, but once it came to be one player completely pulled ahead, as Victoria Azarenka beat Caroline Wozniacki handily in straight sets on Saturday night for the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships & the Cellular South Cup title.
Wozniacki and Azarenka, seeded No.1 and No.2, respectively, at the $220,000 indoor tournament, had both cruised for most of the week leading up to the final, except for one three-setter each: Wozniacki rallied back from a first set blowout to beat qualifier Michaella Krajicek in the quarterfinals, 26 63 63, while Azarenka edged sixth seed Sabine Lisicki in the semifinals, 64 36 76(1).
With both Top 20 teenagers seemingly in top form, the stars seemed aligned for a tight title match. But Azarenka pulled off a minor upset on paper in a major way, demolishing a shell-shocked Wozniacki in straight sets in just 70 minutes for her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of the season, 61 63.
"I started well, putting a lot of pressure on her," Azarenka said. "I did everything I should have done. I was commanding the points. I think I got more confidence as the match went on, too. I was down 2-0 in the third set in my semifinal, and winning that tough match really helped me against Caroline in the final today."
"She was just playing great; I didn't feel I was playing badly," Wozniacki said. "I felt like everything I hit just came back faster. I had beaten her before and I was hoping it would turn out that way again, but she just played a great match. There wasn't too much I could do. Hopefully we can come out and win the doubles now."
After going 0-4 in finals before this year - finishing runner-up at both Estoril and Tashkent in 2007 and at Gold Coast and Prague in 2008 - Azarenka finally won her first title at Brisbane in the first week of 2009, beating Marion Bartoli handily in the final. She followed that up with a fourth round finish at the Australian Open, where she won the first set against eventual champion Serena Williams but had to retire down a break in the second set because of dizziness and illness. And now, in her third appearance of the year, she won Memphis.
Wozniacki, who had won the pair's only previous meeting, is now 3-2 lifetime in finals. She won her first three finals - at Stockholm, New Haven and Tokyo [Japan Open] last season - but has now lost her fourth and fifth finals, at Luxembourg last October (to Elena Dementieva) and in Memphis this past week.
Azarenka and Wozniacki came back onto the court shortly afterwards to capture the doubles title. Seeded No.2, they beat unseeded pair Krajicek and Yuliana Fedak, 61 76(2), for their first title together. They each now have two career Tour doubles titles, Azarenka winning at Tashkent in 2006 with Tatiana Poutchek and Wozniacki winning at Beijing last fall with Anabel Medina Garrigues.
Also making the headlines this past week was Jelena Dokic, who came through the qualifying draw in her first appearance since her phenomenal run to the Australian Open quarterfinals. Her draw was unlucky, however, as she played Wozniacki in the first round. The Dane, who had lost to her in Melbourne, was out for revenge and truly exacted it, beating the Australian handily, 61 62.
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