BRUSSELS, Belgium - After a slew of washouts throughout the week Kaia Kanepi and Peng Shuai had to double up at the Brussels Open on Saturday, winning their semifinal matches in the morning then playing the final later - and it was Kanepi who came out on top, though it was a very tense finish.
Both players were pushed in those semifinal matches, Kanepi saving two set points in the first set tie-break and eventually winning a tight two-setter against Jamie Hampton, 76(6) 64, and Peng going almost two and a half hours to make it past Romina Oprandi in a see-saw three-setter, 64 26 64.
"Peng Shuai played very good - she didn't give me any free points, I had to work very hard for each point," Oprandi said. "The third set came down to just a few points, but she raised her level again."
"I thought Kaia played very well, a very solid match," Hampton said of Kanepi. "She played really good tennis to close it out, so congratulations to her and good luck to her in the next match too."
Later in the day the pair took center court again and Kanepi looked by far the fresher of the two, building a hefty 62 52 lead. The No.8-seeded Peng ran off the next three games, fighting off three match points along the way, but Kanepi bounced back to win two more games and finish it, 62 75.
"It was a difficult second set where I had match point in many games but just couldn't finish it," Kanepi said afterwards. "I was playing really well until 62 52, but I've had problems like this before. I just kept trying to pump myself up and not get too negative about losing the situations I had earlier."
Kanepi collected her fourth WTA title, having previously won Palermo in 2010 and Brisbane and Estoril in 2012. But there's a reason this WTA title was just a little bit sweeter than those first three.
"This makes me feel very happy after such a hard half year when I was out injured. I started playing again on clay, which I really like, and I've been getting my confidence back week after week."
Peng, meanwhile, fell to 0-5 in her career in WTA finals, having previously finished runner-up at Strasbourg in 2006, Forest Hills and Guangzhou in 2008 and right here in Brussels in 2011.
"Kaia played really well - heavy shots and big serves," Peng said. "I tried my best but it was just really hard against her. I thought I could come back at 5-all but she broke me again and held serve.
"I'm happy I made it to the final again here though. It was a really good week for me."
The doubles final saw No.2 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke beat Gabriela Dabrowski and Shahar Peer, 60 63. It is Groenefeld and Peschke's second WTA doubles title together after Linz last fall - Groenefeld now has 13 WTA doubles titles, while Peschke struck 25 WTA doubles titles.
"We played well through the whole match and didn't give them much opportunity to react," Peschke said. "We decided before the match we were going to be aggressive, and that's what we did today."
Peer also shared a lighter moment during the trophy ceremony: she never received her luggage in Brussels and Dominique Monami - an ex-Top 10 player turned Tournament Director for the Brussels Open - had been taking the Israeli's one tennis dress home every single night and washing it for her.