SOFIA, Bulgaria - With just one more match for the season, she said she was going to leave every last bit of energy out there, and she really did - Nadia Petrova completely overpowered Caroline Wozniacki to win her third WTA title of the year at the Qatar Airways Tournament Of Champions Sofia.
Both players were looking strong going into the final, going undefeated in their round robin groups and fending off inspired opponents in the semifinals. But when it came to the final it was one way traffic, as the No.2-seeded Petrova was on fire, both off the ground and on serve - she held all seven of her service games and broke the No.1-seeded Wozniacki five times to cruise, 62 61.
Petrova's serve was particularly devastating in Sofia - she finished the week with 24 straight holds of serve (holding her last two service games against Tsvetana Pironkova in their round robin match, all 15 of her service games against Roberta Vinci in the semifinals, then all seven against Wozniacki).
"After my match against Vinci last night I didn't think I'd have enough time to recover, but I did all the right things and woke up feeling good," Petrova said. "I knew this was the last one and that I just had to give everything I had left.
"I had some long matches before this, so I had to keep this one to two sets. I didn't really have so much left in my tank, so I had to play smart and keep the points short. Caroline's a great mover and so consistent, so I mixed it up and kept her guessing so that she didn't know what was coming from my side.
"This is a great accomplishment and a great way to finish the season."
Petrova had already won WTA titles this year at 's-Hertogenbosch and Tokyo [Pan Pacific], making this the second time she has won three or more WTA titles in a season (she won five in 2006). She now has 13 total WTA titles.
The Russian was asked afterwards how her current form compares to her 2006 form, which took her up to No.3 in the world. "I cannot say I'm playing my best right now, but I'm definitely going in the right direction," she said. "I'm trying to bring the good years back right now though. Hopefully with the preparation I'm doing in the off-season for next year, you'll be able to see the old Petrova.
"I would love to play singles in Istanbul next year."
Wozniacki reflected on the loss and the overall week afterwards.
"Nadia played very well. Her service games were tough, and in the rallies I tried to push her back and make her move, but it just didn't go my way," Wozniacki said. "In the first set I felt like we had a lot of close games, but in the second set I was forcing myself too much and made too many unforced errors.
"I would have loved to win today, but I didn't, and I've had a good week. I played some good tennis during the week, which I'm very happy about."
And not just this week, but the whole fall - since falling first round at the US Open and subsequently falling out of the Top 10, Wozniacki has only been climbing back up, winning 18 of her last 21 matches of the season - and on Monday she will make her return to the Top 10, going from No.11 to No.10.
"I'm very pleased with how I finished the season. I feel like I'm playing very good tennis again, and that I've come back to the game I'm winning many matches with. I'm very much looking forward to the new season as well - but right now it's about having a nice holiday, and then coming back and practicing hard for that!"