ACAPULCO, México - Sometimes a player will have a breakthrough year but the next year succumb to the sophomore slump - maybe they're a little drained, maybe the other players are figuring out how to play them more, or perhaps another reason. Sara Errani has been defying all of that in 2013 though, and on Saturday the Italian picked up her first WTA title of the year at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL.
The No.1-seeded Errani didn't drop a set all week and then came out like a house on fire in the final against Carla Suárez Navarro, winning the first eight games of the match and, after a very grueling next eight games, finally closing out the No.2-seeded Spaniard after a 68-minute second set, 60 64.
"In the first set the ball was much more live and the points were going much quicker, and I just played an incredible set," Errani said after the match. "Even in the second set until 2-0 for me, 15-40 on her serve, I was in control, playing very aggressively. But the ball started getting heavier and the rallies were getting much tougher, and also she started to play much better. It got very difficult at the end.
"I'm so happy I closed it out at the end. Carla was playing really well. I'm even happier because it's my first time defending a WTA title. I love this tournament - it's a really special tournament for me."
Errani comes away with her seventh WTA title. She won her first two in 2008 (at Palermo and Portoroz) and her next four during her breakthrough 2012 (at Acapulco, Barcelona, Budapest and Palermo).
And another impressive feat for the Italian? She is now the WTA match win leader for the season, with 18 wins - five of them coming this week. Second on the list is Agnieszka Radwanska with 17 wins.
Suárez Navarro put up an impressive fight in the second set but still fell to 0-4 in WTA finals.
"I have no reason to be sad - she just played better than me. She was unbeatable tonight," Suárez Navarro said. "But I'm still satisfied. This is a great tournament and I had a great week here."
One of the big storylines of the tournament was the epic quarterfinal match between Alizé Cornet and Lourdes Domínguez Lino on Thursday night, where the No.3-seeded Cornet saved nine match points and battled for over three and a half hours to edge the No.7-seeded Domínguez Lino, 36 76(10) 76(2).
Some say the best way to get over a singles loss is to win the doubles, though, and that's just what she did - the No.4-seeded Domínguez Lino and Arantxa Parra Santonja didn't lose a set all week and dusted it off with a 64 76(1) win over Colombians Catalina Castaño and Mariana Duque-Mariño.
Domínguez Lino and Parra Santonja now have three WTA doubles titles together, after Acapulco in 2007 and Barcelona in 2008. Domínguez Lino now has five WTA doubles titles, Parra Santonja six.