Vinci Edges Dokic For Second Title Of Year
Published June 18, 2011 12:00
'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands - Their games perfectly suited to grass, one with an arsenal of powerful, flat blasts from the ground and the other with pinpoint slice backhands and a solid net game, they battled into the final of the UNICEF Open, a key lead-up to Wimbledon. On the day it was the all-court game that overcame, as Roberta Vinci edged Jelena Dokic, 67(7) 63 75.
The two 28-year-olds had both pulled off upsets en route to the final, the No.7-seeded Vinci taking out both No.3 seed Yanina Wickmayer and No.5 seed Dominika Cibulkova and Dokic beating No.4 seed Flavia Pennetta.
The final was tight from the start, with an early exchange of breaks followed by neither player budging in their service games. Dokic held set points at 5-4 and 6-5; Vinci saved them all and eventually got her own at 6-5 in the tie-break but it was not to be and Dokic finally converted on her fifth set point at 8-7.
Vinci rebounded with a 6-3 second set and broke for a chance to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third; Dokic broke back but Vinci broke again and served it out at 6-5, squandering three match points from 40-0 up but grabbing the fourth.
"We are both 28 and have a lot of experience, but it was a final and with all of the conditions and pressure, it's not easy to stay completely focused," Vinci said. "But I like to play on grass. I play the slice and it's perfect on grass. I also like volleying so I think that's why I play well on grass. I'm tired and am playing on Monday at Wimbledon, but I'm happy - I just won a tournament!"
This was Vinci's fifth WTA title but first on grass, having already won three clay court titles (Bogotá in 2007 and Barcelona in 2009 and this year) and one hardcourt title (Luxembourg in 2010). The Italian is now 5-1 in her career in WTA finals and is projected to improve on her current, career-high ranking of No.30.
"There's no special reason for why I'm playing better this year," Vinci added. "I've probably been practicing better recently. I'm also a little more focused in my matches now - sometimes before I'd play one game well then two games badly, thinking of something else. Now I'm trying to play every point well - I can't play well on every single point, that's impossible, but as many as I can."
Dokic was also trying to win her second title of the year, having won at Kuala Lumpur in March. She is now 6-8 in WTA finals but the silver lining is the former No.4 is now projected to be Top 50 for the first time since October 2004.
Dokic plays Francesca Schiavone in the first round of Wimbledon. "It's an extremely bad draw, but I did get good practice for that match this week," Dokic said. "I played a player similar to Francesca today, although Roberta has a game better suited to grass. I'm really looking forward to that match.
"I'm just going to continue doing what I'm doing. I want to get my ranking up even more. It would be great to get to the Top 30 next."
In the doubles final, No.4 seeds Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Klara Zakopalova rallied from a first set blowout to beat Dominika Cibulkova and doubles No.1 Flavia Pennetta, 16 64 107. The Czechs won their first title together; Zahlavova Strycova now has 14 WTA doubles titles, Zakopalova one.