Tasjkent 09 okt 2005 F: Amanmuradova (257) 6-0 4-6 6-3
Krajicek wins Tasjkent, first tour singles title
Young Michaella Krajicek won the Tasjkent Open for her maiden Sony Ericsson WTA Tour title Sunday. She overcame not just her nervous opponent, local wildcard Akgul Amanmuradova, but also a partisan home crowd and her own first-time finalist jitters.
No.5 seed Krajicek, who double-faulted when she had her first match point, won 60 46 63 in just over 100 minutes in a match which was totally one-sided in the beginning but became a more even contest as it progressed.
Amanmuradova, also playing her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final, appeared to be totally overwhelmed by the occasion and didn't get going at all in the first set Ė she didn't even get to game point on her normally booming serve in the set.
"I never felt so good like today," said a delighted Krajicek, playing only her second tournament after a knee injury in June had kept her out of action for three months. The seventh woman in 2005 to win her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title, Krajicek defeated Hana Sromova, Barboara Strycova (both in three sets), Kateryna Bondarenko and top seed Ekaterina Bychkova to reach Sunday's final.
The feelings were just the opposite for Amanmuradova who appeared crushed by the loss. "It's the worst thing to lose in a final. I'd much rather lose in an earlier round.
"The way I played, I was not confident at all. When I hit the ball, I didn't know if it would go in or out."
When told that Krajicek had said she too was very nervous, Amanmuradova replied: "She may have said so but she didn't appear nervous to me. She was confident, played the crucial points very well. The only time she appeared under pressure was the ninth game in the second set, when she dropped serve."
After a disastrous first set, Amammuradova, who defeated No.2 seed Alona Bondarenko in the first round, then Galina Voskoboeva, Elena Vesnina and No.7 seed Maria Elena Camerin en route to the final, started serving and stroking better in the second. But what really got her back into the match was a bad call in the fifth game, when she was serving 30-40.
A break then would possibly have meant curtains for her. Instead, she raised her game another notch, serving more crisply. She had eight aces in the set after serving none in the first, and found greater consistency in her groundstrokes.
Amanmuradova's improved play saw her take the set after Krajicek made a series of unforced errors in the ninth game to drop serve. But the Uzbek No.1 didn't have enough steam left to take the momentum into the third set. "I found it difficult to move in the third set," she was to say later.
Krajicek was patchy in the third set, committing far more unforced errors than usual. "I was really nervous in the third set. Both of us were nervous." But after dropping serve in the fifth game, having just broken Amanmuradova before that, she regained her composure. "At 3-2 in the final set, I told myself, be calm, play normally," she said later.
And she did that until match point, when she double faulted. The second time around, Amanmuradova netted a return on serve, with Krajicek collapsing to the ground in delight. For the win, Krajicek earned $22,000, while Amanmuradova took home $12,000.
At 16 years, nine months, Krajicek is the second-youngest Tasjkent champion after Nicole Vaidisova, who was 15 years, five months when she won here in 2004. Coincidentally, Vaidisova won the Japan Open title on Sunday, marking the first time ever that two 16-year-olds have won Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles in the same week.
Krajicek was playing only her second event since June, having injured her right knee during the 's-Hertogenbosch quarterfinals in her native Netherlands on the eve of Wimbledon. She returned to the Tour last week in Luxembourg, qualifying for the main draw before falling in the first round to Roberta Vinci.
Krajicek is the first Dutch woman in nearly eight years to win a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title. The last Dutch Tour singles champion was Brenda Schultz-McCarthy at Quebec City in October 1997. She was the first Dutch woman to appear in a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles final since Miriam Oremans and Seda Noorlander finished runners-up in the same week in June 2001, at Birmingham and Tasjkent, respectively.
Amanmuradova was aiming to become the first wildcard in three years to win a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title. In 2002, two wildcards collected titles Ė Fabiola Zuluaga at Bogota in February and Myriam Casanova at Brussels in July. The last wildcard to reach a Tour singles final was Daniela Hantuchova at Eastbourne in June 2004 (falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova).
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