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post #44 of (permalink) Old Feb 22nd, 2014, 03:36 PM
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Re: Rio de Janeiro Draws and Results [2014] -- CLAY SEND NEW POINTS

Benedetti Rules in Rio

Giuseppina Benedetti had dreamt of these words over and over again since 2012. Now here she was, standing on the red clay in Brazil, with a crowd cheering loudly as the announcer says, "Giuseppina Benedetti, your champion in Rio".

Only problem was, the dream came true about two years too early.

Benedetti won't complain, though. The Italian, who is best known for her clay court prowess, has been open about her desire to do win a Grandslam, the Fed Cup, and to do well at the Olympics. With the 2016 Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Benedetti certainly will have experience winning on the clay in Rio to draw from, as she took home the small, international level Rio Open yesterday.

At the start of the week, Benedetti announced her excitement to play on the dirt in a press conference. Fast forward six days, and she proved that she can still be tough, especially on clay. The final match pitted her against rival, Vittoria Perez, whom she had never beaten. The two wasted no time engaging in a high level of play on the surface that typically isn't seen until late-April. Perez, a Spainard, used her booming groundstrokes to move Benedetti side to side, while Benedetti countered with a variety of spins and angles, keeping Perez from getting comfortable. A thrilling first set ended unfortunately, as Vittoria hit a forehand long, one of the few unforced errors in a high quality set.

The second set was lesser in quality, but not in drama, as the two exchanged breaks of serve twice, before Giusa got the final break of the match...a break which would be followed by an easy hold to end the match abruptly, 7-6(5) 7-5 in favor of the Italian.

While much was said about the poor relationship between the two, one would have never surmised as much from the post-match extravaganza. The champion let out a shriek, pranced around for a moment, and then composed herself and jogged to the net, where she met a smiling runner-up. The two gave a friendly handshake and had a conversation for a couple moments that ended in smiles from both players.

Later, Benedetti was asked what was said at the net, and she replied, "Nothing much, really. Vittoria congratulated me and I told her how great of a match she played. Then we shared a laugh making fun of the umpire's toupee."

"The first set was the key to match, I knew that coming in. She and I had both been starting well this week, so after a few games it became apparent to both of us whoever won the first set would win the match."

Benedetti later dismissed this title as being a huge deal, but wasn't ready to say it meant nothing for the impending clay season. "I think it was a nice confidence booster, and that is really the key. When I was winning everything on clay a few years back, it was because I was playing confidently, not nervously. I think winning here will help me with my experience the rest of the clay season, and I will be sure to remember it no matter how Indian Wells and Miami go."

For the Italian, known by commentators as the "lioness", she wins her 11th career singles title, moving her back to 21st on the all-time list.

Giuseppina later teamed up with countrywoman Regla Torres, to roll to a doubles title over Anna Kendall and Sofia Keddison. It was the first doubles title of the year for the Italian pairing, who teamed together all last year, but didn't win a title until hitting it big at the US Open.

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