Hercog Beats Larsson, Wins First WTA Title
Published July 09, 2011 12:00
BASTAD, Sweden - A few days ago she was match point down, now she has her first WTA title. Slovenia's Polona Hercog completed a breakthrough week in Bastad, Sweden on Saturday afternoon, defeating home favorite Johanna Larsson in a tight two-setter to capture the Collector Swedish Open.
Hercog, the No.8 seed, was almost out of the tournament in her second round match on Wednesday, saving a match point against Aravane Rezai down 6-5 in the third set of a 36 64 76(4) victory; Hercog also survived a marathon in the semifinals, pulling off a minor upset against No.7 seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. Afterwards, she said it would be tough to recover for the final.
Her recovery efforts seemed to work, as she beat Swedish No.1 Larsson in straight sets in the final, 64 75. She only lost her serve once in the match - her first attempt to serve it out at 64 54, she fell behind 0-40 and eventually dropped it at 30 - but she rebounded with another break and served the match out.
"Johanna was amazing. She was fighting until the last point," Hercog said. "It was tough with the crowd supporting her so much, but it's normal. I was ready for it. I had a feeling in myself I could win the tournament. I never spoke about it, but through all my matches this week I thought I was really getting there."
Hercog was playing her second WTA final. In her first, at another clay court event in Acapulco last year, she was a runner-up to Venus Williams.
"I'm really happy to win my first title here in Bastad," Hercog said. "They were all telling me - especially the Tournament Director, Nina - that I have to see this amazing place. I'm really happy to have my first title in my pocket."
Hercog is the first Slovenian to win a WTA title in almost six years, since Katarina Srebotnik - who retired from singles last year and is now No.1 in the world in doubles - won on home soil in Portoroz in 2005. "It's a big victory for Slovenia," Hercog said. "Now I'm the top player in Slovenia and an upcoming player. It was on TV, so I hope a lot of young players watched it."
Larsson was also in her second WTA final. Her first final came coincidentally at Portoroz last summer, where she was a runner-up to Anna Chakvetadze.
Lourdes Domínguez Lino and María José Martínez Sánchez won the doubles title with a 63 63 win in an all-Spanish final over No.3 seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives and Arantxa Parra Santonja. It was their first title as a pair - Domínguez Lino now has four WTA doubles titles, Martínez Sánchez 15.