Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
DOHA, QATAR (TICKER) -- Monica Seles of the United States, the top seed, collected her 52nd career WTA title on Sunday, when she outdueled No. 4 Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3, to capture the $170,000 Qatar Open.
Seles, a former World No. 1, moved within three tournaments victories of Britain's Virginia Wade for seventh place on the WTA list of most career titles in the Open era (since 1968).
The 28-year-old earned the $27,000 winner's check and captured her first title in 2002. Seles finished last year with a flourish by capturing three straight WTA crowns. She lifted the trophies at the Brasil Open in September, and the Japan Open and Kiwi Open in October.
"It was a hard fought match and the conditions were very tough as it was very windy," Seles said. "Tammy played very well and she brought (out) the best in me. I was lucky enough to win the first set."
Seles won this event in her debut at Doha. She had reached the final of the Pan Pacific Open at Tokyo and the last four at the Australian Open and the Open Gaz de France in her previous three outings in 2002.
"I had some chances to break and she had some chances too," Seles said. "I struggled with my forehand, it was one of those days."
Tanasugarn, 24, failed to win her first career title. She lost to Anna Smashnova in the final at Canberra earlier this year. Tanasugarn entered this tournament a career high ranking of No. 21 and reached the third round at the Australian Open last month.
"I am very happy with the way I played today, even though I did not win. Monica is very tough to play against," Tanasugarn said. "I had some chances but did not take them. She played better as the match went on. I was not 100% fit as I was fighting a cold for the last few days."
Tanasugarn fought valiantly against a top-10 player at Doha for the second straight year. She reached the semifinals in 2001, when the Thai No. 1 held set points against then-world No. 1 Martina Hingis before falling 7-6, 6-1.
"I am enjoying playing tennis," Tanasugarn said. "Reaching the final here gives me the confidence that I could beat top players."