Dulko Caps Dream Week In Acapulco
Published February 26, 2011 12:00
ACAPULCO, México - Gisela Dulko became the first Argentine woman ever to win the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL on Saturday night, beating Spaniard Arantxa Parra Santonja in a tight two-setter in the title match, 63 76(5).
Acapulco has been one of the most popular stops on the WTA calendar for the world's best clay courters for over a decade, but until this year, no one from Argentina had ever claimed the crown. Two Argentines, Paola Suárez and Mariana Díaz-Oliva, had been to the final, but both finished runner-up.
Seeded No.4, Dulko cruised into the final for the most part, a 36 75 60 win over Laura Pous-Tio in the quarterfinals the only scare - apart from that she lost just eight games in her other three matches combined. On the other side of the draw, a No.6-seeded Parra Santonja was also putting her best on display in becoming the first Spaniard ever to reach the finals at this tournament.
Dulko's crafty game and Parra Santonja's hard-hitting provided for an intriguing match-up. Dulko led early, grinding out a 63 51 lead and seemingly headed for an easy victory. With her back against the wall Parra Santonja fought hard, winning five games in a row for a 6-5 second set lead with 40-0 and triple set point; but the tide turned again as Dulko won eight points in a row from that point to take the set to a tie-break and pull ahead 3-0, never really looking back.
"Finals are always special and we were both nervous in the first set, but after that I was playing much better," Dulko commented. "All of a sudden I started to get a bit nervous again and Arantxa started playing so well. I was three set points down. At the end I ended up winning, so I'm really happy."
Dulko now has four WTA titles to her name, her first three coming at Budapest and Forest Hills in 2007 and at Fès in 2008. She is now 4-4 in career finals.
"I love this tournament but I was always struggling here," Dulko said. "I felt great this week though, on and off the court. I couldn't go to the beach too much though, so I'll try to do that tomorrow morning before I leave."
When Dulko was informed she was the first Argentine woman to win this title she was even happier. "Wow, what an honor!" the 26-year-old said. "It's great just to win a tournament but to do that too is unbelievable for me. A lot of good things have been happening to me this year and I'm just trying to enjoy it all."
Parra Santonja took the court again for the doubles final but again came up just short, as she and fellow Spaniard Lourdes Domínguez Lino fell to Mariya Koryttseva and Ioana Raluca Olaru, 36 61 104. Koryttseva now has five WTA doubles titles to her name while Olaru has two; this was their first together.
"It was a really good doubles final," Parra Santonja said. "Maybe I was a little bit tired from the singles final - I think we could have used a bit more energy. But we were happy to reach the final. And for me to reach both finals was great."
"I enjoy playing with Mariya," Olaru said. "It was a fabulous week. The people are great and the view is amazing. Personally I like the night sessions."
"I've been back four or five times already," Koryttseva added. "The hotel is close, the beach... everything is in one place. It's a dream tournament."