Vinci Beats Kirilenko for Barcelona Crown
Published April 19, 2009 12:00
BARCELONA, Spain - Not many would find inspiration in a loss, but on the Spanish red clay Roberta Vinci did just that, bouncing back from a tough quarterfinal defeat to Jelena Jankovic in Marbella to go all the way to the title in Barcelona this week, beating finals veteran Maria Kirilenko for her second Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title.
Vinci, one of the few players on the Tour who consistently comes into the net but also a strong clay court player - her first title came on the red clay of Bogotá, Colombia, two years ago - pushed Jankovic to the limit in Marbella, saving four match points and pushing the Serb to a tie-break in the third set before finally succumbing to her.
In Barcelona, Vinci blew through her first three rounds in straight sets - including a 61 62 drubbing of the tournament's second seed Flavia Pennetta in the second round - then rallied from 60 42 down against Francesca Schiavone in the semifinals to reach the final. She had little trouble against No.6 seed Kirilenko, beating the defending champion in just an hour and 11 minutes, 60 64.
"I am so happy!" Vinci said. "It's such a great feeling to win again. It has been a long time since I played well. I felt good after Marbella - I had a good match against Jankovic and it gave me confidence coming here to Barcelona."
Vinci's win over Pennetta - ranked No.14 in the world - went down as her sixth career Top 20 victory. But seeing as she had won two of their previous four meetings, that feat may not have been as impressive as her win over Schiavone - she was 0-3 against her countrywoman going into their semifinal match.
Since winning her last title in Seoul in the fall, Kirilenko had a rough go of things, winning just four of 14 matches - none consecutively - and seeing her ranking drop almost 10 places. But it almost came together for her once again, as she won four matches - including over two of Spain's best, María José Martínez Sánchez and Carla Suárez Navarro - before the run came to an Italian end.
It was a week of surprises at the Barcelona Ladies Open, which was in its third year as a Tour event. None of the Top 4 seeds made it to their quarterfinal slots, with No.3 seed Anabel Medina Garrigues withdrawing before her first match due to an abdominal strain, No.1 and No.4 seeds Alizé Cornet and Kaia Kanepi falling first round and No.2 seed Pennetta losing in the second round. No.7 and No.8 seeds Sara Errani and Sorana Cirstea lost before the quarterfinals too.
In the doubles, Nuria Llagostera Vives and Martínez Sánchez fulfilled their expectations as top seeds nicely, beating all comers - including the unseeded pairing of Cirstea and Andreja Klepac in the final - to take home their third title of the year, their fourth overall. They have won titles at Bogotá once (2009) and Acapulco twice (2008, 2009). They now each have eight Tour doubles titles.
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