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Azarenka wins Qatar Open in straight sets

MIR BASIT HUSSAIN

DOHA VICTORIA AZARENKA, the world number one, showed few signs of the ankle injury she suffered in the semifinal and cruised to claim the Qatar Total Open crown with a straight-sets victory against world number 5 Australian Samantha Stosur on Sunday.

Watched by Her Highness Sheikha Moza at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, the top seed clinched the third straight final of the season, 6-1, 6-2. Besides becoming the first Belarusian to win the title, she also maintained her 100 percent record against third seed Stosur, who committed too many errors during the match.

Her 25-8 unforced errors made the sixth victory for Azarenka rather easy.

Another highlight of their rivalry is that Azarenka has never dropped a set against her.

After lifting the golden eagle, Azarenka said she was glad that she finally got hold of it. “This is so beautiful (the trophy). Last year I saw someone else (Vera Zvonareva) taking it . I wanted to own it. I am happy and proud that I have done it finally,” said the victor, who also collected a cheque of $385,000.

Azarenka, who had suffered an injury on Saturday when she twisted her ankle in the semi-finals against Agniezska Radwanska of Poland, came out firing on all cylinders. Stosur also looked determined to do something different than on previous occasions, holding her serve at love. The Belarusian also did the same but began exerting pressure on the opponent in the third game and succeeded in breaking it.

After Azarenka went 5-1 up, one thought that she might wait for her service but she looked in a great hurry to finish off the opening set. Stosur was 40-0 up and from this stage, Azarenka showed the stuff she’s made of. She turned the game around and broke Stosur’s serve off the second set point to take the set with a controlled backhand drop volley inside half an hour.

In the second set, Azarenka continued her splendid run and didn’t allow the Aussie to settle down.

She broke Stosur in the second game with a superb cross-court stroke to go up 3-0. It was only in the fourth game when the Belarusian committed some unforced errors and lost the game. But the world number 1 made amends for her mistakes in the next game (fifth) and won it despite being involved in a long rally.

Stosur’s best was seen in the sixth game. No errors in that game and she produced some lovely ground strokes to make it 2-4.

And then Azarenka raced through the seventh game to put more pressure on Stosur.

The Australian appeared to be responding to the tough situation well as she went 40-0 up.

But Azarenka rallied and forced Stosur into long exchanges before breaking her for the set and the title.

The Australian admitted that Azaranka was able to ‘neutralise’ everything. “I felt like I didn’t get rewarded for hitting big serves, didn’t get rewarded for stepping in and trying to crack the returns.

She was very good at neutralising everything,” said Stosur.

When asked that her record against Azarenka is not impressive at all, she maintained that she learnt a couple of lesson after this match. “I didn’t win but I have been able to learn a couple of things and I can go into the next one with something else to think about,” added Stosur, who earned $192,000 from her first final of the year.

People were expecting that Azarenka’s ankle might cause some problems but that didn’t bother her at all. She also said that before going to Dubai, she has a week to recover but she wants to relish the moment as of now. “It’s not as bad as it could have been. I have a couple of days to recover.

Right now I just want to enjoy the moment and not think too much ahead,” said the Belarusian.


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