Pennetta Conquers Los Angeles
Published August 09, 2009 12:00
LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - Flavia Pennetta won the eighth and biggest title of her Sony Ericsson WTA Tour career on Sunday, beating Samantha Stosur in straight sets for the Premier-level LA Women's Tennis Championships. ( Highlights: Los Angeles Final)
Pennetta and Stosur, who, seeded No.10 and No.13, were not among the favorites when the draw came out a week earlier, both enjoyed scintillating runs to the final. Pennetta pulled off two Top 10 upsets along the way, getting past Nadia Petrova and Vera Zvonareva in back-to-back matches before winning a thrilling semifinal against Maria Sharapova on Saturday night; Stosur didn't face any Top 10 players but she didn't lose a single set to get to the title match.
The two in-form players collided on Stadium court on Sunday afternoon and it was Pennetta who looked fresher, with a positive winners-to-errors differential (18-16) and her trademark controlled aggression that had taken her to seven Tour titles before this one. Stosur, who was 0-4 in finals before this one, had a tough time, with a negative differential (19-32) and losing her serve four times. Pennetta emerged with her biggest trophy yet after a 64 63 victory. ( Shot of the Day)
"I think my serve was very good today. Almost all week it helped me a lot in the important points," said Pennetta, who lost her serve just once in the final, allowing Stosur to close from 1-3 to 3-3 in the second set. "When I was aggressive I won the points today. That was a big step for me to improve my game. I've played a few finals before... I was ready to play the final today." ( Interview: Flavia Pennetta)
Pennetta's first seven singles titles on the Tour all came below the Premier level, and only one of them - Bangkok in 2007 - came on hardcourts, with the other six coming on clay. She is now 8-9 lifetime in Tour singles finals. She is also on an 11-match win streak: 5-0 to win Palermo a few weeks ago, 6-0 to win here.
Stosur fell to 0-5 lifetime in Tour singles finals, having finished runner-up at Gold Coast and Sydney in 2005, Prague in 2006 and Seoul last season.
"Sure, I'm disappointed. I would have loved to win my first title today. But it wasn't meant to be," Stosur said. "I played a very good player today and she played a little better than me. It's certainly something I'm going to build on the rest of the year and the rest of the US summer."
Although it is rare a No.10 seed goes all the way to the title, perhaps the biggest surprise of the week came on Thursday, as a No.14-seeded Zheng Jie beat world No.1, top seed and defending champion Dinara Safina in a nail-biter, rallying from 2-4 in the third set to prevail, 75 46 64. It was her second win over a reigning world No.1, her first coming against Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon last year. Sharapova also made lots of noise, upsetting No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka en route to the semifinals, where she lost to Pennetta, 62 46 63.
The unseeded team of Chuang Chia-Jung and Yan Zi captured the doubles title earlier in the day, edging fellow non-seeds Maria Kirilenko and Agnieszka Radwanska in a match tie-break, 60 46 107. Kirilenko and Radwanska had upset No.1 seeds Stosur and Rennae Stubbs; Chuang and Yan had beaten No.2 seeds Daniela Hantuchova and Ai Sugiyama. Chuang and Yan won their first Tour doubles title together; Chuang now has 12, Yan 16.
"This is the second year I've won the doubles title here, and I'm very happy I could come back and win again," said Chuang, who won last year's title with Chan Yung-Jan. "We had a very good week even though it was our first time playing together. I hope we can play this well in Cincinnati next week."
"This is my 16th doubles title but first in a long time, so I'm very happy to win another title," said Yan, who hadn't won one since taking Strasbourg last spring with Tatiana Perebiynis. "We had a lot of close matches this week. Every match went to a tie-break, so it was very good experience for us."