Kirilenko Comes Back & Conquers
Published February 03, 2013 12:00
PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - If at first you don't succeed, try, try again: words that could have been echoing in Maria Kirilenko's mind as she took to the court for the PTT Pattaya Open final on Sunday. Having lost a three-hour, 14-minute marathon to Daniela Hantuchova in the same round the year before, Kirilenko won a two-hour, 37-minute marathon against Sabine Lisicki this time to take the title.
The final of the International-level tournament certainly had its momentum swings - Lisicki was looking strong in the early goings, building a 75 10 lead with three points for 75 20, then Kirilenko reeled off 11 of the next 13 games to win the second set and build a 5-2, 40-15, double match point lead in the third, then Lisicki stormed back one more time with four straight games to take a 6-5 third set lead.
But the last swing swung in Kirilenko's favor, as she won 11 of the last 12 points of the match, breaking Lisicki at love in that 6-5 game then racing through a third set tie-break, 7-1. In the end, the No.2-seeded Kirilenko finally took the title with a 57 61 76(1) victory over the No.5-seeded Lisicki.
"I feel great - to win a title is always special, but it's even more pleasure when you win such a tough one," Kirilenko said. "It was tough. Sabine played very well. I'm very happy to win this title."
The win was even sweeter for another reason. "I was so disappointed after last year's final, but this year it's a much different feeling," Kirilenko said. "Obviously I'm really excited about this right now."
And what worked best for the Russian against the big-serving German? "What worked best for me today was my forehand," she said. "And my return was really helping today too. I think I hit it very well."
Kirilenko now has six WTA titles, four of which have come in Asia - Beijing in 2005, Kolkata in 2007, Seoul in 2008 and now Pattaya City in 2013. The other two came in Estoril and Barcelona in 2008.
Lisicki, who was playing her first WTA final since 2011, is now an even 3-3 lifetime in WTA finals.
"I hadn't been in a final in a while, so even though it's a tough one to lose, I still feel very good about my week," Lisicki said. "I played some good tennis here. I was working so hard in the off-season and it's nice to see it's already paying off, especially since we're just at the start of the year right now.
"In a final it's always two players who are playing well, so it's never going to be easy. It was such a close match and I had chances to win, but I just didn't take them. I'll learn a lot though."
The doubles went to Kimiko Date-Krumm and Casey Dellacqua, who survived seven aces from the big-serving team of Akgul Amanmuradova and Alexandra Panova to prevail in the final, 63 62. The Japanese-Australian duo won its first title together; Date-Krumm now has four WTA doubles titles, Dellacqua one.