Barrois One Away From First Title, Medina Next
Published April 29, 2011 12:00
ESTORIL, Portugal - Two WTA veterans made the final of the tour's only stop in Portugal, the Estoril Open, one a 28-year-old Spaniard on the comeback trail and one a 29-year-old German who is playing the best tennis of her career.
Germany's Kristina Barrois was the first of the pair to advance, following upsets over No.6 seed Elena Vesnina and No.1 seed Alisa Kleybanova with a 76(2) 64 win over Johanna Larsson. Larsson led by a break in both sets but couldn't close out Barrois, who ranks nine spots higher than her at No.71.
"I hope I can play some more years like this," said Barrois, who actually started playing on the WTA at age 25, much later than usual. "It's only my sixth year on the tour so I'm quite young in tennis years and I hope to keep getting better."
In her last event, Barrois was one of four Germans to reach the quarterfinals of Stuttgart. It was her first Premier-level quarterfinal. "It was a home tournament. I played well there like all the other German players - we were on a run there, and I'm trying to keep it going here. I'm confident and playing so well."
Barrois will be playing in her second WTA final, having finished runner-up to Maria Sharapova in Strasbourg, also held on clay courts, last May.
Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues, a former Top 20 player who fell to No.92 in February but is working her way back up, followed Barrois into the final, beating Monica Niculescu, 61 63. The match was tougher than the score: an hour and 29 minutes. Both women had pulled off upsets a round before - Medina Garrigus beat No.3 seed Klara Zakopalova, Niculescu No.2 seed Jarmila Gajdosova.
"Monica is a player you don't beat very comfortably. Your legs have to be ready to get to every kind of shot," Medina Garrigues said. "Today was harder than it looked. The second set, especially. I'm happy to have finished it in two sets."
Medina Garrigues will be playing in her 16th WTA final, going 9-6 in her previous 15 finals. Eight of her nine career titles have come on clay; her last title came two years ago at Fès in 2009. "I didn't have such a good year last year, losing a lot of first rounds, so to be in a final again makes me very happy. All my coach was telling me was to hit the ball and don't think about the result. I'm 28 years old and have done a lot, I don't have to prove anything to anybody.
"I want to enjoy the last years of my career and enjoy this very nice sport."
Medina Garrigues said of Barrois, "She's going to be a very difficult player because she's very talented. If she's in the final it's because she's playing well."