PATTAYA CITY, Thailand - A day after they spent a combined total of almost six hours to win their semifinal matches, Daniela Hantuchova and Ajla Tomljanovic had another battle on their hands in the final of the PTT Thailand Open - and it was experience that just edged out youth this time.
Tomljanovic, who won an all-WTA Rising Star showdown against Monica Puig the day before, came out stronger in the final, taking the first set in 32 minutes and looking safely in control up 6-3, 2-1.
But Hantuchova has been no stranger to battling back - she saved two match points to beat Marina Erakovic in the semis - and she found another second wind in the final, winning eight of the next nine games to take the second set, 6-3, and jump out to a 3-0 lead in the third and deciding set.
Tomljanovic got things back to 3-all, and then 4-all too, but Hantuchova made one last push right at the end, holding then breaking one last time to win in two hours and seven minutes, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
"Today was very tough because Ajla was playing some great tennis," Hantuchova said. "I had to really fight for it - at the end I felt maybe I was a little fresher and sharper, and that decided the match.
"But Ajla has a great future ahead of her. She's also a very nice girl. It's nice to have somebody like her in the game. And like I said on the court, I'm sure she'll have many more finals to come."
This is the third time Hantuchova has won the PTT Thailand Open, her first two titles here coming in 2011 and 2012. She has seven WTA titles overall now, including Indian Wells in 2002 and 2007.
"It means so much to me to win this tournament three times. I've never done that in my career and never thought I'd be able to," the former World No.5 said. "It's always a special feeling playing in Pattaya. I've felt great here since the first match, and I'm very proud I kept it up all week."
It was a breakthrough week for Tomljanovic regardless of the final result - she had never even been to a WTA semifinal before, let alone a WTA final. Things are really looking up for the 21-year-old.
"There are too many positives from the week. I'm going to try not to dwell on this too much," she said. "I'll just try to learn from it. There are things I can learn from this match and the week.
"Overall I think this was a really big step forward for me in Pattaya."
The doubles title went to No.1 seeds the Chan sisters - Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan - who beat Shuko Aoyama and Tamarine Tanasugarn, 2-6, 6-4, 10-3. It was the Chans' third WTA doubles title together, having won the International title in Shenzhen in 2013 and the Premier title in Eastbourne in 2014.
? Daniela Hantuchová (@dhantuchova) February 15, 2015