Wickmayer Wins First Tour Title in Estoril
Published May 09, 2009 12:00
ESTORIL, Portugal - Yanina Wickmayer moved quietly through the draw all week and when the chips were down she pounced, beating Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets for her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title.
Wickmayer, who assumed the role of Belgium's top player almost exactly a year ago when Justine Henin retired, had displayed great promise before, making it to her first Tour final on the grass courts of Birmingham last June, where she was a runner-up to Kateryna Bondarenko. But on the clay of Estoril she went one better.
Ranked No.88 in the world and unseeded, Wickmayer earned successive wins over No.5 seed Petra Kvitova, Olga Govortsova, No.3 seed Sorana Cirstea and finally No.7 seed Shahar Peer to reach her second Tour final, though her win over Peer did not have the ending she hoped for, as the Israeli was forced to retire after only three games due to a foot injury that had bothered her all week.
"Of course I'd prefer to win by playing the whole match," Wickmayer said after the semifinal. "I was playing well until 3-0. Even though I didn't play the whole match, the games I did play were strong. I practiced a little afterwards."
As an underdog in the final - No.6 seed Makarova was standing across the net from her - Wickmayer performed again, winning a tight first set, 7-5, where the two players were only separated by four points (43-39), then rolling through the second, 6-2, with almost twice as many points (28-16). She became Belgium's first Tour titlist since Henin won one home soil in Antwerp last February.
"I'm really happy to have won my first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title. I've worked hard for it. I don't really have many words to describe the feeling - I'm nearly speechless!" Wickmayer said. "I've been playing well for a few weeks now. I didn't have great results but I've been practicing really well. I felt this coming, not that I was going to win a title, but that I was playing well. I beat some good players this week, two or three seeded players, so I'm very happy."
Makarova reached her first career singles final on the Tour just a week ago in Fès, Morocco, falling there to Anabel Medina Garrigues. Despite the losses she comes away from the last two tournaments with new confidence.
"It was really a good tournament for me. I wanted to win today because I lost last week in the final too. Maybe I was a bit nervous today, but I'm happy to have made the final here at the Estoril Open," Makarova said. "Yanina is a really good player. At the start she missed a bit, but then she played without mistakes and maybe I was waiting for her to make them. She was the better player today."
None of the Top 4 seeds reached their projected semifinal spots, with top seed Iveta Benesova falling in the second round and the No.2 through No.4 seeds - Maria Kirilenko, Cirstea and Sabine Lisicki - all falling in the quarters. Makarova ousted Kirilenko, sending the defending champion home in three sets.
Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears won their first doubles title as a team, beating Sharon Fichman and Katalin Marosi in a match tie-break in the final early on Saturday, 26 63 105. Kops-Jones and Spears had won several titles on the ITF Women's Circuit together but this was their first title on the Tour; Kops-Jones now has two Tour doubles titles to her name while Spears has four.
"We're pretty happy that we came away with that win. It was an up and down match, so we were very happy to pull that one out," Spears said afterwards. "We've actually played four match tie-breaks in a row this week, so we felt confident once we managed to take the match into the tie-break today."
"We've been playing together for the last couple of years, and while we've won smaller tournaments together, we've never won a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title as a team before," Kops-Jones said. "Our game styles match up really well. We like coming to the net a lot. The more we play together the better we can read each other's games. We're also good friends, which helps!"
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