Safina Edges Errani in Portoroz
Published July 26, 2009 11:01
PORTOROZ, Slovenia - It didn't come easily, but world No.1 Dinara Safina won her third Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title of the year on Sunday, defeating Sara Errani in a nail-biter for the Banka Koper Slovenia Open in Portoroz.
Safina, who had won her first two titles of the year at Premier-level events in Rome and Madrid during the clay court season, had solid scorelines in her first four matches at the International-level Banka Koper Slovenia Open, her grand total of games lost in eight straight sets being 17.
The top-seeded Russian was certainly pushed to the limit in the final by an in-form Errani, the fifth seed, who toughed out a 76-minute opening set and even served for the match at 5-4 in the third before finally going down to the world's best player in seven minutes shy of three hours, 67(5) 61 75.
"After losing the first set, I started to play exactly how I had to. But then when I was up 2-0, 30-0 in the third set, suddenly I lost my game," Safina said. "I got tight. That's why it was so complicated. When I won the match it was a relief. I really wanted it. These tough matches give you confidence and I hope with this I can go to the States and play my best tennis there."
Safina improved to 12-11 in Tour singles finals, including 3-4 in 2009. She is the second this year to win three Tour singles titles, after Victoria Azarenka (who has two International titles and one Premier title to her name this season).
"It was very nice being here. I really enjoyed my stay," Safina added. "The Tournament Director did everything possible for me and the only way I could thank him was to win the title. The people here were treating me so nicely. I just wanted to give this back to them."
Errani was playing her second straight Tour final, having finished runner-up to Flavia Pennetta at Palermo a week ago. The Italian was looking for her very first Top 10 win; she was also trying to become the fourth woman from her country ever to upset a reigning world No.1, following Tathiana Garbin, Francesca Schiavone (who has done it twice) and Pennetta.
"It was a very tough match today. Unfortunately I was unable to win it," Errani said. "This match gives me confidence though. And I absolutely want to come back to Portoroz. I feel very good here. It's one of my favorite tournaments."
The doubles final was played Saturday, with the No.3-seeded pairing of Julia Goerges and Vladimira Uhlirova beating Camille Pin and Klara Zakopalova, 64 62. It was Goerges' first Tour title of any kind, while Uhlirova now has a total of three Tour doubles titles to her name. Pin and Zakopalova were unseeded.