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Medina Garrigues Gunning For Title No.5

Polona Hercog, aiming for titles in back-to-back weeks, stands between Anabel Medina Garrigues and a fifth Palermo title.

Published July 16, 2011 05:23

Medina Garrigues Gunning For Title No.5
Anabel Medina Garrigues

PALERMO, Italy - Anabel Medina Garrigues built on a remarkable record at the XXIV SNAI Open on Saturday, winning through to the final of the $220,000 tournament for the fifth time in eight visits. Standing between the No.5 seed and a fifth title at the red clay event is Polona Hercog, who beat Flavia Pennetta in the other semifinal.

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For a while, though, it seemed the Medina Garrigues magic was missing in the semis. Her opponent, eighth-seeded Petra Cetkovska, raced to a 3-0 lead; while Medina Garrigues drew level, the Czech broke again for 5-3 and moved to set point on serve.

But she didn't convert, and it proved to be a costly miss for a player striving to reach her first WTA final. Medina Garrigues broke back, and after Cetkovska had relinquished another set point on the Spaniard's serve, the score was 5-5. Let off the hook, Medina Garrigues capitalized by breaking for 6-5 and duly banked the opener on serve, on her second set point.

The second set was more straightforward, at least until the end was in sight. Medina Garrigues - who turns 29 on July 31 - broke for 2-1 and again for 4-1. Down 0-40, she saved two break points but Cetkovska took the third, improving her deficit to 4-2.

However, Medina Garrigues broke again for 5-2, and although she failed to serve it out in the following game - Cetkovska saved a match point before breaking - a Czech double fault gave the Spaniard another match point in the next game. This time there would be no reprieve for Cetkovska as Medina Garrigues advanced, 75 63.

For her part Hercog, now on a nine match streak having won her maiden title at Bastad last week, made surprisingly light work of top seed Pennetta, the champion here two years ago. Seeded seventh, the 20-year-old Slovene won the first five games of the match; although she faltered when serving for the opener, it proved to be a minor hiccup as she powered to victory, 62 62.

Hercog and Medina Garrigues will be meeting for the first time. Should Medina Garrigues prevail, she will boast the most clay court titles among active players. Currently she is tied with Venus Williams, who also owns nine such titles.

Though they failed to justify their respective singles seedings by reaching the last four, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci found joy in the doubles final on Saturday night. The top seeds won their third title of 2011 (after Hobart and Pattaya City) by beating No.2 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Klara Zakopalova in straight sets, 75 61.

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