Iveta Avenges, Wins Fès
Published May 01, 2010 12:00
FÈS, Morocco - Iveta Benesova got some sweet revenge against Simona Halep in the final of the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem to take away her second career singles title on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
Three weeks ago in Marbella, Benesova lost first round to Halep, who was playing her first main draw match on the Tour. It was a low point for Benesova, who had been ranked in the world's Top 30 as recently as last year; it was her ninth loss in 11 matches on the season at the time, as well.
Ranked No.67 and the No.7 seed in Fès, and coming off her first quarterfinal of the year in Barcelona, Benesova was sharp all week, losing an average of five games per match through the semifinals, making the final after a 63 46 75 win over Alizé Cornet, in which Cornet served for the match in the decider.
Meanwhile, Halep, who won two matches in qualifying too, was cruising through her half of the draw, not losing a set and only being pushed to a tie-break once, in her 62 76(3) upset of No.2 seed Patty Schnyder in the quarters.
Benesova asserted herself right away in the final. With Halep serving in the opening game, she pushed her to six deuces before finally allowing her to get on the board, setting the tone for a very tough day for the 18-year-old. The 27-year-old Benesova broke in six of Halep's other eight service games and won, 64 62.
"This morning I woke up pretty tired because of the long match yesterday, but I still felt good," Benesova said. "Simona came back from 5-2 to 5-4 in the first set and we had a really tight game there, and I was nervous, but I made it. In the second set I played very well. I played her in Marbella and knew what to expect, and wanted a little revenge. I just tried to play my game, be aggressive and make her move, because she had a lot of matches this week too."
Benesova is now 2-6 lifetime in finals, also winning at Acapulco in 2004.
"It has been such a long time since Acapulco, I don't even remember! It's hard to compare. It has been six years... I'm just happy I could make it again."
Halep, a former junior world No.1, was playing her third main draw on the Tour. She reached the quarterfinals of her Tour debut in Marbella and fell first round in Barcelona. Now, she is the youngest finalist on the Tour this year with Fès.
Benesova teamed up with Anabel Medina Garrigues shortly after to win the doubles. Seeded No.1, they beat No.2 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova for the title, 63 61. It was their first time playing together - Benesova won her eighth Tour doubles title, Medina Garrigues her 14th.
"After singles I was so excited I didn't feel tired anymore. I was full of energy again," Benesova said. "Anabel helped me a lot. She's really a great player."
Benesova is just the second player this year to sweep the singles and doubles titles at the same Tour event. The first player was someone by the name of Serena Williams, who doubled up at the Australian Open.
"The tournament Serena won was a little bit different! I'm happy I could play both events, but winning them... it couldn't be better.
"There's no time to celebrate though. I'm going to Estoril now. I have the day off tomorrow, but I'll be travelling - the perfect day off!"
The Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem is the only Tour stop in Africa. This is its 10th year on the calendar, although it has moved around in Morocco, spending its first four years in Casablanca (2001-2004), two years in Rabat (2005-2006) and now four years in Fès (2007-2010).
Princess Lalla Meryem is the first daughter and eldest child of the late King Hassan II of Morocco and sister of Mohammed VI, the current king of Morocco.