Hantuchova Back In Winner's Circle
Published Feburary 13, 2011 12:00
PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - Daniela Hantuchova made a welcome return to the WTA winner's circle on Sunday afternoon, claiming her fourth career title - and first in almost four years - at the PTT Pattaya Open in Thailand.
Hantuchova, the No.4 seed at the $220,000 tournament, didn't drop a set en route to the title, but it was by no means easy. Having lost to her in all three of their previous meetings, she edged Kimiko Date-Krumm in a tight two-setter in the second round, 76(3) 63, then came the semifinal battle with No.1 seed and two-time defending champion, Vera Zvonareva, which she also won, 76(3) 64.
"I kept fighting like crazy. I knew it would be a crazy match, she has confidence and experience," Hantuchova said. "She has been in so many finals and is such a fighter, but I played one of my best matches in the last few years."
"I wasn't happy with my game since the second round, and with such a good player like Daniela, you need to lift the level of your game," Zvonareva, ranked No.3 in the world, said. "I hope to come back. I love playing in Pattaya. I won here twice, everyone welcomes me, it's a great thing to have. So I hope I can."
In Sunday's final, Hantuchova was in crushing form against No.8 seed Sara Errani, hitting three times as many winners (18 to 6) and breaking serve six times en route to a 60 62 championship victory in an hour and 16 minutes.
"I was really hungry to get another title," Hantuchova said. "I was focused and aggressive from the start. I won the whole tournament in straight sets, which is a good sign. After the injury at the start of the year, this feels great. I had a good pre-season and now it's paying off. I just never doubted myself."
Hantuchova's first three WTA titles came at Indian Wells in 2002 and 2007, as well as at Linz later in 2007. She is now 4-7 in career finals.
"The match with Vera was a little final I would say, but I have to give credit to Sara, she played well the whole tournament," Hantuchova added. "I hope to come back to Pattaya City. I didn't have time to see anything of Thailand, so hopefully I come back not just for the tournament, but also holidays!"
Errani is now 2-3 in career finals on the WTA, those two titles coming in back-to-back weeks in 2008 at Palermo and Portoroz, and the two runner-up finishes coming at those exact same tournaments the next summer in 2009.
"Daniela was playing very well," Errani said. "It was hot and I was tired, and she was serving fast and hitting hard, so it was not easy to play my game."
Other stars names making the trip to Pattaya City were Ana Ivanovic, the No.2 seed, who fell to No.5 seed Roberta Vinci in the quarterfinals, and Maria Kirilenko, the No.3 seed, who lost a heartbreaker in the second round to qualifier Galina Voskoboeva, leading 61 52 and holding triple match point at 61 54 but ultimately succumbing in three sets to the Kazakh, 16 75 64.
In the doubles final, No.1 seeds Errani and Vinci beat Sun Shengnan and Zheng Jie, 36 63 105. It was the Italians' fourth WTA doubles title together, having won in Marbella and Barcelona last year and at Hobart earlier this year. Zheng was playing her first event since the US Open, having been out with a left wrist injury; she fell first round in singles but made it to the doubles final.