Originally Posted by Curcubeu
Mid-September, the tennis season 2012 is edging towards the end, lonely and deserted lies the Tashkent stadium down in the heat of the burning sun. Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked #82 is taking on #8 seed Galina Voskoboeva. After a long match the 22 year old Romanian finds herself 2*-5 down in the decisive set. Another lion-hearted fight, another wasted effort? Retrospection.
Irina Begu started with high expectations into the year coming from a 2011 fairytale season that couldn't have gone much better for her. Being ranked outside Top 200 at the beginning of January she finished the year at the brink of Top 40. An incredible effort that didn't stay unnoticed by the WTA which rewarded her rightfully with the title 'Newcomer of the Year'. A great honour closely connected with a big amount of responsibility to do her nomination justice and keep climbing up the rankins. But the truth looked different.
A persistent shoulder injury that already bothered her at the end of last year, forcing her to set an early end to her 2011 campaign and to skip the first couple of weeks of important preparation in view of the coming year, hindered her for most parts of the early season. Even on her beloved clay, the results were pretty dire, a couple of 1st round losses often accompanied by horrendous serving performances affected her self-confidence and put even more pressure on the Romanian's shaky nerves. It all culminated in a historical melt-down how it has never been seen for a long time on the stage of WTA when Begu managed the impossible, losing a match from 6-0 up in the final tiebreak, wasting a total of 8 MPs before falling once again in the second round of Rosmaelen to Francesca Schiavone. At that point, even the most optimistic supporters of hers were close to giving up the hopes for taking at least something positive out of this year.
Begu, however, surprised us all. Having dropped down to the bottom of the Top 100, but liberated from all the pressure that stressed her for far too long, Irina-Camelia had to take on former World #1 and US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki in R1. In the end it was the expected one way traffic, but with an unexpected winner. Begu only dropped 4 games to secure her first career Top 10 victory and advance into the second round. Even though, she couldn't go further from there, she was able to maintain her good form in the Tournament of Tashkent.
Back to action.
'This is my chance. Now or never!'
After nearly 3 hours, game set and match. Irina-Camelia did it better this time winning 5 games in a row in clutch manner to clinch a tough 7-5 victory in the 3rd set over Voskoboeva. The first step in view of long overdue reward for her first full time WTA season and a long expected turning point for her followers. She went on winning her first WTA title in a classy manner, her serve back in full force, especially in the final against young and upcoming Donna Vekic she beat in straight sets.
Standing proudly at the winner ceremony, the still baffled Romanian received her first WTA tournament trophy and as a special gift, a traditional Usbek Chapan on top of that. A surreal scenery set in the land of Arabian Nights to which Begu just casually added. "I'm glad I made the last minute decision to play here."
Tennis is an unpredictable business, but Irina-Camelia Begu is trying her best to establish on top of the game, through ups and downs, stormy weather and Uzbek sunshine.