Breakthrough Day For Martínez & Voskoboeva
Published September 24, 2011 12:00
SEOUL, South Korea - It was a day of firsts at the Hansol Korea Open on Saturday, as María José Martínez Sánchez reached her first WTA hardcourt final and Galina Voskoboeva reached her first WTA final on any surface.
Martínez Sánchez, the No.6 seed at the International-level tournament, was the first of the two to advance to the final, prevailing in a battle of 29-year-olds against Klara Zakopalova, 63 62. Zakopalova was able to break serve twice but Martínez Sánchez returned the favor six times en route to the 67-minute victory, her first victory in the veteran pair's three career meetings.
Martínez Sánchez is now in her sixth WTA final, but first on hardcourts. Her first five finals came on clay and she went 4-1 in those (losing to Maria Kirilenko in the final of Barcelona in 2008 then winning her next four finals at Bogotá and Bastad in 2009, Rome in 2010 and Bad Gastein earlier this year).
"I played with no pressure today and did really well," Martínez Sánchez said. "I'm not sure why my other finals only came on clay courts. My style of game is more powerful on hardcourts. But my goal is always just to work hard and keep fighting, so it doesn't really matter to me what surface my finals are on!"
Voskoboeva, unseeded this week, followed Martínez Sánchez into the final with a 61 64 upset of No.5 seed Polona Hercog. After storming through the first set in just 27 minutes, Voskoboeva lost her way somewhat in the early stages of the second set, finding herself at 1-4 and facing four points for 1-5; but she saved all of them and closed to 2-4, then rolled through the next four games.
"Especially in the first set, I felt like I was hitting almost every ball perfectly," Voskoboeva said. "In the second set I was just telling myself to come on and stay aggressive. I was waiting for my opponents' mistakes too much and I knew I just needed to start concentrating hard again and I would do well again."
Voskoboeva is in her first WTA final on any surface. The Russian-born Kazakh didn't even reach a WTA semifinal until a few months ago in Baku. Needless to say, the 26-year-old is having a breakthrough second half of 2011.
Voskoboeva beat Martínez Sánchez in their only previous meeting, at an ITF Women's Circuit tournament on clay three years ago, in three sets.
"That match was long ago. I nearly forgot about that," Voskoboeva said when asked about their 2008 encounter. "María José's style is different. She serves and volleys a lot, which you don't see too much in the women's game. It will be a tough day for both of us but both of us are in very good condition."