Re: S3 - 21: Tour Championships, Madrid (YEC)
Krajicek Surprisingly Ends Season with YEC Crown
Dutchwoman Michaella Krajicek came to the Year-End Championships with poor results during the past 20 weeks, despite reaching quarterfinals of all four slams in a season for the first time in her career. She had claimed to feel disappointed with herself after the whole season became a failure compared to the past 2 seasons in which she had achieved better results than the current season.
Ending last season as #1, she came to the Australian hardcourt season with as little hope as usual since she does not fancy playing on the brand new Plexicushion surface. She only won her first match in her third event against Alexandra Wozniack but then faltered against British player Anne Keothavong. She was replaced by Alicia Molik as the #1 after the Australian won two of the 3 warm-up titles leading to the Australian Open. Krajicek managed to reach the quarterfinal in Melbourne later, only falling to Japanese newcomer Akiko Morigami.
After that was the clay season. Krajicek first being noticed was when she made huge surprises on clay, especially against former Australian Open champion Nathalie Dechy in Season 1, beating the Frenchwoman on her best surface twice and shockingly made the semifinals of the French Open after that. However, that would only be a memory for the Ducth as she could only get 3 wins in 4 events, including one against two-time slam champion Tamarine Tanasugarn. Interestingly, two of her losses were against the then newly crowned Roland Garros winner Kim Clijsters.
Reaching the grass court season, Krajicek, whose best surface is on grass, had much hope as she had a great run on the fast green surface last season, winning 2 titles and a Wimbledon final. She failed to defend her titles in Birmingham and s'Hertogenbosch though. She put all her hope in Wimbledon but surprisingly lost a close match against Maria Sharapova in the semifinals whom she had beaten twice in the warm-up events. Thank god the Russian was then demolished badly in the final by Italian newcomer Flavia Pennetta who then won the Olympic gold medal in her next event.
The hardcourt season was also not as good as Krajicek had wished for despite being her second best surface. She only reached a final in New Haven, only to be beaten by the in form Polish player Marta Domachowska who had also defeated Krajicek in the previous event in Toronto. In New York, she performed poorly and was ousted by American Lindsay Davenport in 2 close sets in the semifinals. She had a minor injury on her knee after that, causing her to fail to win a single match in the first 3 indoor events.
So when she arrived Spain for the last event of the season, the #5 ranked Krajicek, who accumulated a 16-20 win/loss record, had felt no motivation at all, losing all of her confidence and whatsoever. She was on the verge of giving up playing tennis when she was drawn in the group of death, with French Open winner Clijsters, Wimbledon champion and Olympic gold medallist Pennetta, and also US Open champion Sharapova all as her opponents. Being the one who achieved the least in the group and also the worst among the top 8 players, she had ZERO hope and expectations, only wanted to end her season as quickly as possible and planned on her future after tennis life.
After a gruelling 3 days on fierce competition, Krajicek shocked everyone including herself, winning all her opponents in 3 setters. She made the semifinals of the YEC for the first time in 3 attempts with a perfect 3-0 record in the round robin. The tour's very own glamour girl Maria Kirilenko awaited her in the semifinal. Once again, the former #1 prevailed in two tiebreaker sets 7-6(4), 7-6(5). Krajicek didn't show too much of emotions after that though even after the victory. She remained calm and collected and shook hands with the Russian opponent who left the court without shaking hands with the umpire and also waving to the crowds. She improved her head-to-head record to 5-2 against the glamourous Russian.
Reaching only her third final of the season, she was determined to win after failing to claim one in her previous two finals. She met Sharapova who had reached the #1 spot after defending champion Molik failed to get past the round robin stage and reaching the final herself. Sharapova too was hoping to win the title after a sudden improvement compared to her previous seasons, seeing her leaping from #22 last season to end the season as the #1 player. One came to the court hoping to confirm her status as the best player while the other one just hoping to claim her only title in her sub-par season. After an hour and 43 minutes, Krajicek stunned the US Open winner once again for the second time in one event, making her the first player to win YEC without losing a match in straight sets 7-6(6), 6-4. Not only she avenged her only loss to the tall Russian in Wimbledon earlier, she even improved her head-to-head record to 9-1 in 3 seasons.
"I'm just thrilled to win this title!!! I couldn't believe I'm able win it after having such a bad season. I cried the whole night after knowing I'm in the toughest group. All in all, the whole event is just a huge challenge for me. I'm just lucky to escape all of them especially my last 2 matches, considering I played such competitive tennis with a minor injury which occurred not too long ago. I just couldn't believe I actually won my first big title in 3 seasons! Beating 4 top 8 players in one event, especially winning Maria twice, is definitely the proudest moment for me. It can easily be compared to winning a slam or maybe better since you won't always meet so many top 8 players in one event. Anyway, I'm satisfied how it all ends though I didn't have a good season. Plus, I haven't been out of top 5 since the beginning of Season 2! I just hope I can maintain in top 5 and of course winning my maiden slam title in the future. At the moment, I'll try enjoy my off-season. Here, I'd like to congratulate the tour director who once again for the third season, made a good job for the tour(not great ). Hopefully the tour will continue to prosper."
Krajicek now has 6 career titles with a season win/loss of 21-20, 78-59 overall; 29-16 against the top 10 players in the last 3 seasons (9-4 this season). Besides, she ends the season on #4, becoming the only player to be ranked top 6 for third staright season.
Last edited by ElusiveChanteuse; Mar 22nd, 2009 at 07:37 AM.