INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA -- Former World No. 5 Sara Errani won her biggest title in over two years on Sunday, as the Italian claimed the Oracle Challenger Series event in Indian Wells, CA, with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 4 seed Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.
The 2012 Roland Garros runner-up and five-time Grand Slam doubles champion rebounded from a 1-4 first-set deficit behind wily shot selection and her typical superb defense, and won nearly 80 percent of points off of Bondarenko's second serve. This is Errani's first WTA 125K Series title, to go with her nine WTA singles titles and 27 WTA doubles titles.
Bondarenko and Errani had played six times between 2007 and 2012, clinching three matches apiece. It was Errani who won their first encounter in nearly six years, following a solid run through the WTA 125K Series event by the Italian, which included coming through the qualifying rounds.
"Of course I’m very happy," Errani said during the trophy presentation. "Many, many matches in a row, from the qualies!"
After surviving two break points in her first service game, Bondarenko got on a roll later in the first set, breaking Errani at love for 3-1 behind powerful winners off both wings, and then holding at love for 4-1 with well-placed serves which flummoxed the Italian.
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Despite struggling with her service toss, Errani started to reclaim her footing in the match. She held for 2-4 in a marathon 23-point game, where Bondarenko had six break points but could not convert any, often misfiring long on service returns. Errani then broke a completely deflated Bondarenko to get back on serve, as the Ukrainian’s unforced errors continued to pile up.
The combination of stellar defense and wise shot placement from Errani continued to wear down Bondarenko, who double faulted down break point at 4-4 to hand the Italian her first lead of the match. Serving for the set, Errani hit two double faults, but still polished off a five-game streak to win the opening frame after Bondarenko shanked a forehand long on set point.
It was fairly straightforward for Errani in the second set, as she raced to a 4-1 lead of her own with multiple winners via lobs and passing shots. Bondarenko's aggressive groundstrokes fell inside the lines enough during one game to pull the set back to 4-2, but the Ukrainian was quickly broken again to give Errani the 5-2 lead.
In the next game, Errani swiftly reached double match point, but more service toss woes led to a double fault negating the first one. After missing her first serve on the following point, Errani called an audible and put in an underhand second serve, which was enough to start a rally that eventually ended with one final long Bondarenko backhand.