BUDAPEST, Hungary - Sara Errani continued to slide into the record books on Saturday, extending her clay court winning streak to 15 matches and three tournaments by beating Elena Vesnina in the Budapest Grand Prix final.
Errani was the top seed at the International-level event and apart from one three-setter, against Hungary's own Melinda Czink in the second round, she absolutely cruised through to the final; meanwhile, the unseeded Vesnina was tearing up the bottom half, taking out three seeds to reach the final: No.2 seed Ksenia Pervak, No.6 seed Petra Martic and No.5 seed Marina Erakovic.
Vesnina came in with a dubious 0-5 record in WTA finals; it looked like things might change as she went ahead 5-3 in the first set with two set points, but it just wasn't to be, as Errani won seven games in a row to build a 75 30 lead, and she barely looked back, eventually recording a 75 64 championship victory.
"Elena was playing very strong today - my congratulations to her for that," Errani said afterwards. "I had to run a lot and fight hard to keep up with her today."
"I was playing very well at the beginning, but Sara is the kind of player who destroys your game and makes you feel uncomfortable on the court," Vesnina said. "I tried to play aggressively throughout the match but the slow court suited Sara's game better than it did mine, and all credit to her for winning."
Errani has now won three clay court tournaments in a row: Acapulco, Barcelona and now Budapest. She is the first player to win three straight WTA titles on clay since Nadia Petrova won Amelia Island, Charleston and Berlin back in 2006. The Italian's 15-match winning streak on clay is also the longest clay court winning streak since Dinara Safina won 16 in a row on the dirt in 2009.
"I didn't imagine to win any titles this year and now I have three," Errani added.
The 25-year-old Italian now has a total of five WTA titles, having won two in 2008 as well, and she is also projected to crack the Top 25 on the new rankings.
Errani's first round opponent in Madrid this week coming up will be Chanelle Scheepers, against whom she has won both previous meetings (although both have been close). Should she get through that and tie Safina's 16-match win streak, she could play World No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round, which could be tough - she is 0-26 in her career against Top 10 players.
The doubles final saw Slovaks Janette Husarova and Magdalena Rybarikova recover from an early 4-1 deficit, win 11 of 13 games and defeat Czech-Dutch duo Eva Birnerova and Michaella Krajicek, 64 62. The 37-year-old Husarova won a milestone 25th WTA doubles title, while Rybarikova won her first.