Bartoli Wins First Title of Year in Monterrey
Published March 08, 2009 12:00
MONTERREY, México - The Monterrey Open came to an exciting conclusion on Sunday, as Marion Bartoli prevailed in a hard-hitting final against Li Na for her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year.
As this week's second seed, Bartoli's biggest competition on paper at the inaugural event was top seed Agnieszka Radwanska, but the world No.10 was outdone in the first round by the unseeded Li. Bartoli and Li then got past all-comers relatively unthreatened the rest of the week, until they set up their first ever meeting in the final.
Li made a strong start, racing ahead 4-2 in the first set and building a 30-15 lead in her next service game. But she lost three points in a row - two of them coming on double faults - and Bartoli went on a tear from there, winning eight of the next nine games to lead 64 41. Li got two games in a row to close the lead to 64 43 and also had a point to even the second set at 4-all; but Bartoli got back on track, holding for 64 53 then breaking Li at love to complete the 64 63 victory.
"I feel really good about how I played the whole week," Bartoli said. "I had some tough matches, not just today but also in the semifinals. They were both two sets but tough. I hit some great shots at the right moment. I'm happy about my level."
Bartoli came away with her fourth career singles title on the Tour, having won in Auckland, Tokyo and Québec City in 2006. She had done a lot since then, like reaching her first Grand Slam final and making it into the Top 10, but no titles.
"My first three titles came in 2006 when I was younger and not really expecting to win. So it's understandable why those ones were more emotional. But it's always nice to win titles, and this is a great one. Now I'm hoping to start winning bigger tournaments, and I hope I can keep playing like this in Indian Wells and Miami."
Bartoli's semifinal win over Zheng Jie, who was the No.4 seed, was also her 300th career singles match win: "It makes me feel old - 300 already, oh my gosh! I don't normally think about the wins but it's great. I focus on winning titles, not about how many matches I've win. But of course I'm happy about it!
"Monterrey was absolutely perfect. So many people came out to watch every day, and there were even French fans supporting me so much. For its first year it was really well organized, and the Tournament Director did his best to give us everything we needed. I really enjoyed my time here."
Although she came one win short of the title, Li still emerged from the hardcourt tournament with a strong showing, most notably her win over Radwanska (her 12th career win over a Top 10 player). She also truly asserted herself on the season this past week, having missed the entire Australian season with a right knee injury and falling early in her first two events of the year (Paris, Dubai).
The doubles final, which was played earlier in the day, saw Nathalie Dechy and Mara Santangelo beat Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 63 64. It was Dechy and Santangelo's third title together, having won Rome in 2007 and Auckland earlier this year. Dechy now has six Tour doubles titles to her name while Santangelo has eight.
See photos in the Photo Gallery presented by Dubai Duty Free.