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Birthday Girl Ivanovic Celebrates, Bali Style

Ana Ivanovic came out firing to win the Commonwealth Bank Tournament Of Champions.

Published November 06, 2011 12:00

Birthday Girl Ivanovic Celebrates, Bali Style
Ana Ivanovic

BALI, Indonesia - A year ago she captivated the Bali crowds with her big game and big smile, and this year she did it all over again. Ana Ivanovic celebrated her 24th birthday on Sunday, Bali style, beating Anabel Medina Garrigues to win the $600,000 Commonwealth Bank Tournament Of Champions.

Ivanovic, who didn't win an International title this year but was given a wildcard into the event as defending champion, had looked solid through her first two rounds, snapping a two-match losing streak to Roberta Vinci with a 63 63 win, then holding off a late surge from longtime rival Nadia Petrova, 61 75.

That form only got better in the final, as Ivanovic broke early en route to taking the first set, then dominated the 27-minute second set, losing just seven points. While they had comparable unforced errors - Ivanovic 18, Medina Garrigues 17 - Ivanovic kept piling on winners from both wings, finishing the 61-minute match with 20 of them (and allowing the Spanish veteran just four total).

"I felt like I didn't do much wrong. It was a great match for me," Ivanovic said in her on-court interview. "Anabel and I practiced together all week, so it was nice we got a chance to play each other on the last day of the tournament."

This is the first time Ivanovic has won any WTA title two years running. "I'm super relaxed here, and that helps. I come here to compete, but I also spend lots of time on the beach and in the spa, and the people are so friendly - I've made many new friends. It's just so enjoyable here. It feels great to play here.

"Thank you so much to the tournament for giving me a wildcard this year."

And on winning her first WTA title of the year - and the 11th of her career - on her birthday? "It's the best way to celebrate my birthday, in front of so many people. Actually it's the most people I've ever had at my birthday!"

It has been a growing trend for players to get even better with age, case in point the 29-year-old Medina Garrigues, who reached her biggest career final in Bali. She got past No.1 seed Marion Bartoli and No.3 seed Sabine Lisicki to reach the 18th WTA final of her career, and still has a winning record: 11-7.

"Congratulations to Ana. She was playing so well, I couldn't do anything today," said the Spaniard, whose titles at Estoril and Palermo helped her qualify this year. "She has been No.1 in the world and she's a very good player, and I'm really happy with my week, but she was too good on the court today."

Earlier in the day, Petrova took third place honors as Lisicki was forced to pull out of their play-off match with a mid back injury. "I'm sad I wasn't able to play today," Lisicki said. "I have so many good memories from my visits to Bali and want to thank the fans for all their support, and a special thank you to Annie and Kevin Livesey for all they have done to make this a successful event."

The tournament will move to Sofia, Bulgaria next year. "Bali is very important for us. It's always nice to see all the people here supporting us," Medina Garrigues said in her runner-up speech. "Even when we had the earthquake the other day, it still feels so nice here. I hope we can have another WTA event here soon."

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