Bondarenko triumphs at Al Habtoor
By Alaric Gomes, Staff Reporter
Dubai: Former junior Wimbledon champion Katerina Bondarenko brushed aside pretender Ekaterina Dzehalevich 6-1, 6-3 to win the 8th Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge at the Grand Habtoor Resort and Spa yesterday.
Bondarenko, who won the junior Wimbledon crown in 2004, was in a hurry from the start as she swept through the opening set 6-1 in under 20 minutes.
She stepped up her efforts in the second, and despite losing her serve once, the Ukrainian showed who was in charge as she served out for the match 6-3.
Sultan Al Habtoor, President of Al Habtoor Motors, Rahim Abu Omar, CEO of Habtoor Hospitality, and Farid Jayussi, tournament director, presented the trophies to the winners at the end.
This was the third visit for both the finalists, but it was Bondarenko who showed more purpose as she stayed focused through the final. "I just wanted to play my game and give her as little time as possible to get her rhythm," Bondarenko said.
"The key was to keep the games short and that pretty much worked today," she smiled.
The Ukrainian took hardly any time to power her way to a quick 4-0 lead with breaks in the second and fourth games. Dzehalevich broke her opponent to win her first point at 5-1, but Bondarenko showed no signs of relenting as she took the set 6-1.
The start of the second set was more evenly matched with Dzehalevich matching her 120th ranked rival. The Belarussian, in fact, had the upper hand in the middle of the set as she broke Bondarenko to lead for the first time at 3-2.
But the 20-year-old Ukrainian had other plans as she broke back on two successive occasions to serve out for the set and match. "Somehow my legs just gave way today," Dzehalevich lamented.
"Maybe I lost all my energy getting so far into this tournament that I did not have anything left in the tank," she shrugged.
"Reaching the final was a good achievement, but I should have matched this with a good show today."
Bondarenko was pleased with the way she has ended her season. "It is always good to take a break with a victory under the belt," she said.
"I will be in a better frame of mind when I start off the new season in Hobart and then at the Australian Open next month," Bondarenko added.
Meanwhile, Jelena Kostanic, the top seed in the singles, made up for her disappointment as she teamed up with Mervana Jugic-Salkic to defeat the Bondarenko sisters 6-3, 6-0 for the doubles crown.