Zvonareva Beats Azarenka For Prague Singles Title

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Neither player had dropped a set en route to the final and on Sunday it was Vera Zvonareva who continued the trend, defeating Victoria Azarenka out in straight sets for her sixth career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title.

Zvonareva, the top seed at the Tier IV event, had a tough start as the No.3-seeded Azarenka broke in the opening game then held for a 2-0 lead. But she retaliated with three games of her own, and when Azarenka broke for 6-5 later in the set she broke back right away again; after a smooth tie-break she rolled through the second set, clinching the title with a 76(2) 62 victory in an hour and 33 minutes.

"It was a tough match," Zvonareva said afterwards. "She is a tough young player and it was really close, especially the first set. We both had our chances in that set but I was able to pull it out. It felt great to get through such a tough match."

Going by score line Zvonareva's win over Azarenka was her toughest test of the week; she hadn't lost more than four games in a set in her previous rounds. But she maintained that score isn't always an indication of competitiveness.

"It always looks easier from the scoreboard; on the court I try to give it 100% no matter the score," Zvonareva declared. "I competed hard in every match, so the first few matches may have looked easier from the score, but they weren't."

Azarenka was playing in her fourth career Tour singles final and is now 0-4. She was previously a runner-up at Estoril and Tashkent in 2007 (to Greta Arn and Pauline Parmentier, respectively) and at Gold Coast earlier this year (to Li Na).

No one has reached more finals this year than Zvonareva. Coming into Prague she was tied at three with Maria Sharapova (3-0), Serena Williams (3-0) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (0-3). Like her compatriot Kuznetsova, Zvonareva was 0-3 in her first three finals as well; that all changed in the Czech capital.

"Since I wasn't able to get through my first three finals, this is even better... fourth time lucky," said Zvonareva, who won on clay for the second time, having won her first career title at Bol five years ago. "I don't really think about the surfaces; I get used to any surface. I'm happy to win any tournament!"

Next up for Zvonareva will be the Tier I stop in Rome. The Russian is a two-time semifinalist at the event, so it seems there's even more to look forward to.

"I missed the whole red clay court season last year with my injury, so I'm just enjoying every tournament now. This was my first tournament on red clay in two years and I won it, so I'm pretty excited right now. I'm just looking forward to continuing to try my best in the coming weeks."


Wtatour.com,4 may, 2008