Monday, October 25, 2010

Vika Conquers in Moscow

She qualified for this coming week's season-ending WTA Championships - Doha 2010 by winning her first match of the week, but she didn't stop there. Victoria Azarenka went all the way to the title at the Kremlin Cup, capping a stellar run with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Maria Kirilenko.

Azarenka, the No.2 seed at the Premier-level tournament, downed Andrea Petkovic in a three-setter to qualify for the elite eight Doha field, then didn't drop another set all week - including beating No.6 seed Kirilenko, 6-3 6-4, winning a routine first set then rallying from 0-4 in the second set to take the title.

"We showed some excellent tennis. I hope the crowd enjoyed it," Azarenka said. "Maria played really well and had a lot of motivation for her hometown final. The crowd was obviously behind her, but that just motivated me more."

It was Azarenka's second title of the year, following another Premier-level victory in Stanford. She now has five career WTA titles and a 5-6 record in finals.

"I'm happy to win another title," Azarenka said. "It brings me extra confidence for Doha. I have a flight there tonight so I'm excited to arrive on a high."

Kirilenko had blazed through the draw at her home tournament, losing just nine games en route to the final. Her result this week, in addition to her results over the last year, mean she will return to the world's Top 20 on this week's rankings, her 12th career week among the elite (she spent four weeks in the Top 20 in 2006 and seven more there in 2008). The Russian is now 5-4 in career finals.

"I really wanted to win this tournament but Vika was better than me today," Kirilenko said afterwards. "It's nice to finish the year with a great final. It gives me a desire to work harder and get better. I felt so much support from the crowd and it helped me all week to play well. I'm happy that from tomorrow I can put my racquets and tennis clothes away for a couple of weeks!"

Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta, the No.1 seeds in doubles, won their sixth title of the year together on Saturday, beating No.3 seeds Sara Errani and María José Martínez Sánchez, 6-3 2-6 10-6. It was Dulko and Pennetta's fifth Premier-level title of the season and gave them an extra push going into Doha, where they will also be the No.1 seeds in the four team competition.

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