Kanepi Wins Palermo, Makes History

Kaia Kanepi became Estonia's first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour champion on the red clay of Italy.

Published July 18, 2010 12:00

Kanepi Wins Palermo, Makes History
Kaia Kanepi

PALERMO, Italy - Estonia's first Grand Slam quarterfinalist, Estonia's first Top 20 player and now Estonia's first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour champion. Kaia Kanepi continued to make history for her country in Palermo this week, capturing her first career title with a 64 63 win over Flavia Pennetta.

Kanepi, the No.5 seed, had beaten Pennetta twice but never on clay; and after losing the first two games of the match and facing a point for a 3-0, double break deficit, things looked headed the same way. But Kanepi snapped into it at that point, catching up and never falling behind again to upset the No.1 seed.

"I'm very happy to win my first career title," a thrilled Kanepi said afterwards. "This is the best moment of my career. After doing well at Wimbledon, now I've confirmed I'm playing really well. Flavia was playing well but today I was more aggressive in the most important moments of the match."

See photos of Kaia, Flavia and other in the Palermo gallery!

In 2008, Kanepi became the first Estonian to make it to the quarters of a major, doing so at the French; that was one of the strong showings that later led her to the world's Top 20. She fell out of the Top 100 this year but has rebounded in a big way over the last few months, reaching another Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon and now taking her first title on the red clay of Palermo.

Kanepi had lost both of her previous finals, at Hasselt in 2006 (to Kim Clijsters) and at Tokyo in 2008 (to Caroline Wozniacki).

This was Pennetta's 20th career final and she is now 9-11 in those. The defending champion was gracious in defeat: "I want to congratulate Kaia. She played a fantastic match. Now I'm going to prepare for the hardcourt season coming up. I am hoping I can defend my results from last year."

The doubles final was played Saturday night and Italian pairing Alberta Brianti and Sara Errani triumphed over Jill Craybas and Goerges, 64 61. Brianti collected her first Tour title of any kind; Errani won her fifth Tour doubles title, which goes along with her two Tour singles titles here and at Portoroz in 2008.

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