Duque Crowned In Bogotá
Published February 21, 2010 12:00
BOGOTÁ, Colombia - Mariana Duque Marino became the pride of Colombia on Sunday afternoon, winning her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title right in front of her home fans at the XVIII Copa BBVA Colsanitas.
At the beginning of the week at the International-level tournament, Duque Marino was nowhere near the betting favorites, ranked 54 spots lower than any of the seeds; and after losing her first set of the tournament, 6-2 - to qualifier Greta Arn in the first round - a run to the title certainly didn't look likely.
Duque Marino kept plugging away, though. She won that opener, 26 60 63, and although things got tight here and there - she saved nine set points in her 76(3) 76(10) second round victory over qualifier Kristina Antoniychuk and a 10th in her 60 76(4) quarterfinal victory over No.7 seed Klara Zakopalova - she survived, then beat No.8 seed Arantxa Parra Santonja, 64 75, in the semis.
In the final, Duque Marino faced No.5 seed Angelique Kerber, who had upset No.1 seed and heavy tournament favorite Gisela Dulko in the semifinals; but buoyed by her supportive home crowd, the Colombian saved her best tennis for last, winning the last three games of the first set and five of the last six games of the second set to pull off a 64 63 win over the German, also in her first final.
"It was a difficult match in both sets," Duque Marino said. "Playing a final is never easy for every reason - physically, mentally... So, I'm proud I won today."
Duque Marino's best Tour result before this week was a quarterfinal finish - right here two years ago: "I was disappointed with how I performed here last year and I worked so hard over the last year," Duque Marino added. "Coming into this season I didn't think I would win a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title so this has been incredible. I ran so much. The hard work paid off."
Duque Marino is Colombia's first singles champion on the Tour since their greatest player ever, Fabiola Zuluaga, who won five titles - including four right here in Bogotá (1999, 2002, 2003, 2004) and one in Sao Paulo (1999). Zuluaga was also known for becoming the first Colombian - male or female - to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam (doing so at the 2004 Australian Open, losing to Justine Henin). Zuluaga was present at Sunday's trophy ceremony.
Dulko and Edina Gallovits joined together to win the doubles title later Sunday, beating Olga Savchuk and Anastasiya Yakimova in a tight two-setter, 62 76(6). Dulko and Gallovits won their first title together; Dulko now has nine Tour doubles titles to her name while Gallovits won her first Tour title of any kind.