Originally Posted by John Inverdale
Russia’s Kuznetsova outlasts Martinez to win Bali WTA title
BALI (Indonesia): Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova won her second title in two months when she outlasted eighth-seeded Conchita Martinez 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5 in the final of the Wismilak International on Sunday.
The win will catapult the 17-year-old, ranked 264 at the beginning of the year and needing a wild card to enter the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open, into the world's top 50 next week for the first time.
Martinez, who was playing in her first final since the 2000 French Open, claimed the opening set of the two-hour, 43-minute marathon by breaking to lead 5-3 and then holding off a break point in the next game. A disappointed Kuznetsova then dropped her serve to fall behind 1-0 in the second set, but she levelled at 2-2 when Martinez netted a weak backhand and then went on to win the tie-break.
In a dramatic final set, Kuznetsova chose to serve and volley much more than she had in the opening two sets. She broke for 1-0, but Martinez levelled at 2-2. The Russian, who won the Helsinki event in August as a qualifier, then broke to take a 4-3 lead, but failed to serve out the match at 5-4. Kuznetsova held four match points before Martinez eventually levelled with her third break point, but Martinez then dropped her serve again after leading 40-0. Kuznetsova didn't waste her second opportunity.
Kuznetsova is coached by Emilio Sanchez and also works with his sister, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
They are close friends, and at the awards ceremony Kuznetsova dedicated her title to her semi-final opponent Sanchez-Vicario, saying it was she who deserved to win because she had taught her so much. "The match was very, very tough for me mentally," said the 2001 ITF World Junior Champion. "It was a different situation to Helsinki when I won my first WTA title. I wasn't nervous there at all. But here it was very difficult because having to beat Arantxa yesterday was the most difficult day of my life, and so I felt obligated to win today. "That's why I couldn't play my good game at all. When you're so nervous you cannot do anything. I just tried to hit my good forehand and tried to make her move because she doesn't do that well. So I'm not happy with the way I played but I'm happy that I won."
Despite the disappointment of her defeat, Martinez could take some consolation from having come so close to winning her first title since the German Open in May 2000. "Something changed when I was up a set and 2-0. I didn't play as aggressive as I should have," said Martinez. "I had so many chances too in the tiebreak, but the match was tight and it went her way. "Right now, when you lose a match like that of course it's disappointing, but it's good to be in the final and to fight for a title. I felt like I played pretty good the whole week and it was a close final." —AFP