Pratt Wins First Tour Title
HYDERABAD, India - At the age of 30, Australian Nicole Pratt (right) has fulfilled every professional tennis player's dream - to win their first title.
Pratt, runner-up to Monica Seles at the Shanghai event in 2001, went one better at the $140,000 ING Vysya Hyderabd Open Saturday, defeating first-time finalist, 17-year-old Russian Maria Kirilenko, 76(3) 61. The win should see Pratt on the verge of a Top 50 ranking once again, while Kirilenko will edge past her previous career-high of No.117 to around No.115.
Fourth-seeded Pratt was pushed to three sets twice during the week - in the first round by Indian wildcard Sania Mirza and in the semifinals by No.2 seed Marion Bartoli. She becomes the first woman in 2004 to win their first WTA Tour singles title.
Kirilenko's previous best result at a WTA Tour event was a quarterfinal finish in Hyderabad 12 months ago. The 2002 US Open junior champion also reached the third round at Flushing Meadows last year in her Grand Slam debut.
For winning the singles title, Pratt wins US$22,000, while runner-up Kirilenko earns $12,000.
History was created in the doubles event, as 17-year-old Mirza became the youngest-ever Indian - male or female - to win a professional Tour event and the first woman from her country to capture a WTA Tour title.
As a wildcard team with experienced South Africa Liezel Huber, Mirza helped defeat Chinese No.3 seeds Li Ting and Sun Tian Tian 76(1) 64 in Saturday's final. It was Huber's 10th WTA Tour doubles title.
GO THE AUSSIE GIRLS
Alicia Molik~Nicole Pratt~Samantha Stosur~Christina Wheeler
Nicole Kriz~Monique Adamczak~Isabella Holland~Jessica Moore
Emily Hewson~Trudi Musgrave~Sophie Ferguson~Casey Dellacqua