Published March 07, 2010 12:00
MONTERREY, México - Almost exactly a year after her first breakthrough run at Indian Wells, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova finally went all the way. The youngest player in the Top 40 collected her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title on Sunday, beating Daniela Hantuchova for the Monterrey Open.
Pavlyuchenkova, 18 years old and the No.3 seed at the International event, had to serve double duty as her semifinal had been pushed from Saturday to Sunday because of rain; so after beating surprise semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova earlier in the day, 63 26 61, she took on No.2 seed Hantuchova in her first Tour final. And it wasn't a smooth start, as she quickly dropped the first set, 6-1. But that's when the big serve and penetrating groundies started clicking.
The title match turned on a dime from the beginning of the second set, as the increasingly aggressive Pavlyuchenkova started cracking winners from both wings, storming back to win 12 of the last 13 games of the match, dusting off the 16 61 60 win with one last swinging forehand volley winner.
"After my first match, it was hard to concentrate again. I wasn't feeling the ball well and Daniela played a very solid first set," Pavlyuchenkova said. "I tried to understand her game and I started fighting. When you win a final it's hard to understand - you feel a lot of emotions. In a few days I will get it."
"I played a solid first set with few mistakes, but then she started to play very aggressively with almost no mistakes," Hantuchova said afterwards. "She really played unbelievable. I was always under pressure. Maybe after the first set she thought she had nothing to lose, then began playing better."
Pavlyuchenkova's best result prior to this was a semifinal run at Indian Wells last year, where she surprised Top 10 players Jelena Jankovic and Agnieszka Radwanska before falling to Ana Ivanovic. Jankovic was the No.1 seed here in Monterrey, just ahead of Hantuchova and Pavlyuchenkova; the No.9-ranked Serb lost to Sevastova in a three set, first round stunner.
Hantuchova was a late entry and wildcard into the event: "Even though I lost, I had a great week. I'm frustrated every time I lose, but I played five matches and fought well. The organization was great. My mom and I had a wonderful week."
Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova won their second doubles title of the year together earlier, beating Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Vania King in a match tie-break, 36 64 108. Benesova and Zahlavova Strycova were down a break twice in the second set and trailed 5-2 in the match tie-break but fought back each time, eventually adding the Monterrey trophy to the Paris [Indoors] trophy. Zahlavova Strycova now has the most doubles titles of anyone on the Tour this year - she won in Acapulco last week with Polona Hercog.
"We are very happy because we lost the final last year and now we won it," Benesova said. "I enjoy playing with Barbora, she is an excellent partner."