Martínez Sánchez Wins First Title Of Season
Published July 17, 2011 12:00
BAD GASTEIN, Austria - María José Martínez Sánchez announced her return to the WTA winner's circle this week, winning her fourth career title - and first in 14 months - at the NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies on Sunday.
Martínez Sánchez, who won clay court titles in Bogotá and Bastad in 2009 and Rome in 2010, did it again in the picturesque setting of Bad Gastein this week, losing just one set en route to the final - in the quarterfinals against Yvonne Meusburger - before beating Patricia Mayr-Achleitner for the title, 60 75.
Martínez Sánchez won the first seven games of the match to go up 60 10 before Mayr-Achleitner kicked into gear, getting on the board with four games in a row to lead 4-1 in the second set; but the momentum shifted once again and the Spaniard won six of the last seven games to close it out in straight sets.
"At the start I was playing almost 100% perfectly," said Martínez Sánchez, who hit nine aces in the match. "It's normal to have a bit of difficulty after such a good start, but I stayed calm all the time until the end, and that's why I won."
After winning Rome it was somewhat of a tough year for Martínez Sánchez. She was out of action for two months last summer due to a knee injury, and after not defending her Rome points she fell down the rankings into the 80s. With the pressure of those points off she seems to have found her mojo again though, beating Top 20 players at the French Open and Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals in Bastad last week and now going all the way in Bad Gastein.
"It's a really good step for me to play a lot of matches in the same week and build my confidence," the Spaniard said. "I got here a bit late and didn't have too many days to get used to the altitude here, but day by day I was learning."
What's next for the new Bad Gastein champion? "I have holidays now, then I'll start practicing for the hardcourt season. Next is Toronto, Canada. I won't be able to do a lot of drop shots on hardcourts, but I'll be serving and volleying."
Mayr-Achleitner had the best week of her career. She not only reached her very first WTA final, and on home soil too, but she did it in impressive fashion, ousting No.5 seed Lourdes Domínguez Lino and No.8 seed Ksenia Pervak along the way. Her semifinal win over Pervak was particularly dominant: 60 60.
"I couldn't find my game today, and she was playing very well," Mayr-Achleitner said. "I think it was too windy for me. Even when I was winning the second set I didn't feel it was my game, and I couldn't find my forehand today. I was a little angry. But she played very well - she started really well - and it was still a fantastic week for me. It was also nice to get all the support I did this week."
The Bad Gastein favorites were decimated early, with seven of the Top 8 seeds - including Top 2 seeds Julia Goerges and Jarmila Gajdosova - losing first round. The only seed to make it further was Pervak, who saved six match points to win her second round match and was ultimately crushed by Mayr-Achleitner.
Eva Birnerova and Lucie Hradecka came back from the brink of defeat in the doubles final against Gajdosova and Goerges, saving match point with a big ace at 9-10 in the match tie-break and eventually scoring a 46 62 1210 victory. Birnerova won her second WTA doubles title, while Hradecka won her 11th - Hradecka is now 19-0 in her career in doubles at the event, winning it every year since it became a WTA stop in 2007 (2007 with Renata Voracova, 2008 and 2009 with Andrea Hlavackova and 2010 with Anabel Medina Garrigues).