Arruabarrena-Vecino's Bogotá Breakthrough
Published February 19, 2012 12:00
BOGOTÁ, Colombia - Nineteen-year-old Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino wasn't one of the favorites at the start of the week at the XX Copa BBVA Colsanitas - ranked No.174, playing in just her third WTA main draw and facing a 5-2 third set deficit in her opening match, it seemed like the dream was over. But in the high altitudes of Bogotá, she took her game to brand new heights.
Arruabarrena-Vecino made it out of that first round match against No.8 seed Patricia Mayr-Achleitner, battling back for a 61 36 76(3) victory, then didn't lose a set the rest of the week, in fact losing just 21 games in her next four matches combined. Playing fellow first-time WTA finalist Alexandra Panova in Sunday's final she had some trouble closing it out, missing out on her first five match points, but she dusted a 62 75 victory off on her sixth match point.
"It was a very tough final today," Arruabarrena-Vecino said after the match. "Alexandra has been playing so well this week, so I knew it would be tough and I would need to run a lot. But I played well - I was very happy with my forehand today and even though I was nervous at the end, I managed to finish the match.
"Before the tournament, if someone had told me I would win the title, I wouldn't believe them. And I almost lost first round, too. It was really tough to get used to the conditions but after I came back to win that first match I got more and more confident. I played one of my best matches of the week in the final today.
"I love this court. I love it here. This is a very special title for me."
Arruabarrena-Vecino also achieved a somewhat unique first - with 18 letters, no WTA champion has ever had a longer last name, excluding married names. Marie Neumannova-Pinterova (19 letters) and Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi (18 letters) also captured WTA titles, but those are both married names.
It was also a breakthrough week for Panova. After also surviving a close one in her first round match - she saved four match points to beat Mandy Minella - the 22-year-old Russian made it all the way to her first WTA final too.
Panova's breakthrough wasn't limited to the singles draw either - she and Eva Birnerova of the Czech Republic won the doubles title. Seeded No.1, they beat Minella and Stefanie Voegele comprehensively in Saturday's final, 62 62. It was Panova's second career WTA doubles title and Birnerova's third.