Tennis: Srebotnik revels in her 'miracle'
By Dylan Cleaver
Slovenia's Katarina Srebotnik celebrates her victory in the final of the ASB Classic after defeating Shinobu Asagoe in three tight sets. Picture / Nigel Marple
Nice girls do not come last. Katarina Srebotnik yesterday won a gripping final of the ASB Classic over Japan's Shinobu Asagoe, coming from a set and 0-4 down in the second to win 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes. This followed a 150-minute thriller in the semifinal earlier.
"Miracles happen, right?" Srebotnik said following the epic.
Along the way the regular visitor to Auckland showed a humility and sportsmanship not often associated with this sport.
She smiled, laughed at her errors, applauded her opponent and, incredibly, gifted her a point when she was awarded a let at 5-5 in the first set.
It cost her the game, probably the set, but won her the fans.
"I am so overwhelmed," Srebotnik said. "I need a holiday."
She didn't have time though. Shortly after the final she had to pair up with Asagoe to face New Zealander Leanne Baker and her partner Francesca Lubiani in the doubles final. Asagoe had done Srebotnik no favours either.
"All I could do was keep running and running and running. She was so mean. In that first set, unbelievable. I just kept fighting," said Srebotnik.
Asagoe's most quotable moment of the tournament came as she missed a forehand while serving to stay in the second set.
"Aaiieee," she screamed as she saw her title slipping away. A point later Srebotnik had broken to take the game into a third set.
It was quite a comeback from Srebotnik, who had a treatment break and looked dead and buried at 0-4 down in the second set.
It looked like a day, or more particularly a week, of hard tennis had caught up with Srebotnik, while Asagoe seemed to be all the fresher for her walkover victories in the second round and quarter-final.
But from nowhere Srebotnik found the will to fight.
The unseeded Slovenian came into the year ranked 87, but was as high as No 30 11 months ago.
The victory was Srebotnik's third on the WTA Tour, while Asagoe is still waiting on her first.
It was a minor miracle the final was played yesterday.
Like every other event in New Zealand this 'summer', the ASB Classic has been at the mercy of the weather gods