Petkovic Walks Over Suarez Navarro, Hantuchova Completes Pattaya Hat Trick
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Another exciting week of WTA tennis ended in a huge contrast between the two tournaments. The Diamond Games soon turned rough after Carla Suarez Navarro failed to step on to court in the final against Andrea Petkovic, but despite the German walking over her opponent she fell flat in an exhibition match against Kim Clijsters. In Pattaya however, fans were treated to a great end to the tournament as Daniela Hantuchova came from behind to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic and claim her third Thailand open crown.
It was promising to be a close final in Antwerp with little separating Petkovic and Suarez Navarro in the rankings and form, but unfortunately the Spaniard was forced to withdraw with a neck injury.
“I woke up in the morning and just felt this pain in my neck,” the Spanish No.1 said. “I went to the physio to get treatment and tried to play at 11:30, then had physio again and tried to play again at 2:15, and I just couldn’t serve. I couldn’t play like I wanted. So I had to pull out of this final. I’m really sorry. I love this tournament and I had a great week. I really tried today.”
The withdrawal meant that Andrea Petkovic was automatically crowned champion, and as a result she will break back into the top 10 after three injury-plagued years that saw The German almost fall outside the top 200.
Despite not having to take to the court today, Petkovic had to work very hard to get to the final in the first place. In her second round match against Belgian wildcard Alison Van Uytvanck, the German had to save eight match points in the three hour and 19 minute battle – the longest match of the year so far. After straight set wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, Petkovic found herself one match away from winning her sixth career title. In the end it came easier than anyone expected.
The third seed spoke about her opponent’s withdrawal in the post-match press conference: “Right before we went on court I was warming up and they told me the news. At first I was very shocked because I didn’t know anything about her physical pain and the blockage. But secondly I was sad. I really like Carla – she’s a great person and always friendly and positive, and she has a tremendous amount of talent. Also, you can never really enjoy the win when you don’t fight for it.”
“So I’m happy I had a great week and I’m leaving as the champion, but definitely mixed emotions.”
To ensure the fans didn’t leave without any tennis action, former world number one and four time Grand slam champion, Kim Clijsters stepped on to court to play the Antwerp champion in a one set exhibition.
The new Director of Diamond Games reeled back the years and put on a show for the home crowd, as she raced to a 5-3 victory. This performance over a now top 10 player will surely make the rest of the tour feeling glad she has gone… Well at least Petkovic anyway.
“I hope you don’t take any offense Kim, but I’m glad you are done playing on tour!”, the German joked post-match.
The doubles went to top seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja, who beat An-Sophie Mestach and Alison Van Uytvanck, 6-4, 3-6, 10-5.
Daniela Hantuchova edged out young gun Ajla Tomljanovic in a comeback victory to win the PTT Thailand open for the third time.
The 21 year old started off the better of the two, breaking at 2-2 in the first before securing the opening set with another break at 5-3. However, Hantuchova is no stranger to comeback, shown by her comeback against Marina Erakovic in the semi-finals. The 31 year old broke in the opening game of the second set, but was immediately broken back by her game opponent. After holding for 2-1, Tomljanovic proceeded to lose the rest of her service games in the second set. Hantuchova soon ran away with the second, and despite a small hiccup at 5-2, she broke the Croatian to level the score. With the experience of six WTA titles behind her, the Slovak looked likely to run away with the final set, taking a 3-0 lead. Her young opponent, however, had other ideas. Tomljanovic got things back to 3-3, and then 4-4, but one last burst from Hantuchova was enough to break her opponent to take the match 3-6,6-3,6-4.
“Today was very tough because Ajla was playing some great tennis,” Hantuchova said post match. “I had to really fight for it – at the end I felt maybe I was a little fresher and sharper, and that decided the match. But Ajla has a great future ahead of her. She’s also a very nice girl. It’s nice to have somebody like her in the game. And like I said on the court, I’m sure she’ll have many more finals to come.”
With this win, Hantuchova has now won seven career titles, three of which have come at this event.
“It means so much to me to win this tournament three times. I’ve never done that in my career and never thought I’d be able to,” Hantuchova said. “It’s always a special feeling playing in Pattaya. I’ve felt great here since the first match, and I’m very proud I kept it up all week.”
Despite the loss, it was a good week for Tomljanovic. The 21 year old made her first WTA final, and will look to use this experience to build herself up as a player.
“There are too many positives from the week. I’m going to try not to dwell on this too much,” she said. “I’ll just try to learn from it. There are things I can learn from this match and the week. Overall I think this was a really big step forward for me in Pattaya.”
It was a sister act in the doubles, as Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan Chan -beat Shuko Aoyama and Tamarine Tanasugarn, 2-6, 6-4, 10-3 to claim their third doubles title together.
Next up, the tour heads to Rio and Dubai for another eventful week of tennis, which you can follow on Tennis Atlantic.