Kleybanova Cruises To First Title
Published February 28, 2010 12:00
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - She survived some tough battles earlier on but once she got into a groove she couldn't be stopped, and in the end Alisa Kleybanova was too much for one of the hottest players out there, cruising to her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title at the Malaysian Open.
Kleybanova, seeded No.4, was pushed to 6-4 in the third set twice, against Alla Kudryavtseva in the second round and Anastasia Rodionova in the quarterfinals. But a 64 61 win over Ayumi Morita in the semifinals must have given her a boost, because she had one of her most dominant performances of the week in the final against one of the hottest players around right now.
Elena Dementieva, seeded No.1, had not lost a set en route to the final. In fact she had barely lost any games, surrendering a total of 15 in four matches (an average of less than two a set). But that didn't make a difference to the heavy-hitting Kleybanova, whose big serve resonated - she punctuated her first three service games with aces - during a 63 62 rout of the world No.7.
"I'm happy to have my first title now, but I don't have too many emotions about it," Kleybanova said. "I had some very tough weeks and many long matches, and I still gave it my all on the court. I feel like all of the hard work I've put in for many years has paid off right here and I've made another step forward."
"I want to congratulate Alisa, she played really well today," Dementieva said. "I know it is difficult to organize a tennis event such as this but I think the organisers have done a great job and I hope this tournament will continue for many years. I am grateful for the warm welcome here in Malaysia and I thank all the fans for staying and supporting us today and through the week."
Kleybanova was playing her first singles final on the Tour, her best results prior to this week being semifinal finishes at Fès, Toronto and Moscow last year. She had won three Tour doubles titles though, and even made the Top 10 in the team discipline earlier this year. That singles title was the last piece of the puzzle.
Second and third seeds Li Na and Zheng Jie didn't make it too far in the draw, both falling early. Li was the first to go, losing to Tatjana Malek in the first round; Zheng lost her second round match against Chang Kai-Chen.
In the doubles final, Chan Yung-Jan and Zheng defeated Rodionova sisters Anastasia and Arina in a match tie-break win, 67(4) 62 107. It was Chan's ninth individual Tour doubles title and Zheng's 12th, and their first as a team.