Tennis: Estonia’s Kanepi wins Brisbane tennis

AFP, Saturday 7 Jan 2012

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi produced a stunning display of attacking tennis and a formidable serve to blitz Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and win the Brisbane International on Saturday

Kaia Kanepi
Former Australian tennis player Evonne Goolagong Cawley (L) presents Kaia Kanepi of Estonia with the trophy after Kanepi defeated Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia during their final match at the Brisbane International tennis tournament January 7, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS)

Kanepi, ranked 34th, was in irresistible form as she destroyed her opponent, ranked ten places above her, 6-2, 6-1 in 74 minutes in the Pat Rafter Arena.

The 26-year-old Kanepi overpowered Hantuchova with the ferocity of her groundstrokes, her backhand particularly damaging throughout.

"I can't believe what I have done, and how well I have played and who I have beaten and by what score," a delighted Kanepi said afterwards.

While her serve was not as effective as in previous rounds, she still did not face a single break point during the final.

"A year ago my coach said that I wasn't serving that well and that in half a year I had to be serving like a top ten player," Kanepi said.

"So we have been working very hard on the serve, the technique and everything and I think the work we've done a year ago is paying off right now."

Kanepi broke Hantuchova twice in the first set as her fierce returns placed enormous pressure on the Slovakian, and when she raced away to a 4-0 lead in the second the final was as good as over.

Hantuchova went out fighting however and managed to save three match points, but on the fourth a tired looking backhand into the net handed the title to the Estonian.

"I felt like I played a great match from the start to the end but she didn't give me too many chances," Hantuchova said.

"She was better in all the departments of the game and she really deserved to win.

"When she's on her game it's really hard to do anything and she's been playing like this all week, and when she puts it all together she's a dangerous player.

"If she can do this week in and week out she can be up in the top ten very soon."

Kanepi went into the match on the back of an impressive semi-final defeat of third seed Francesca Schiavone, where she dropped just three games.

The Estonian also knocked out second seed Andrea Petkovic in the quarters and seventh-ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round.

Ironically, her toughest match came in the first round when she took three sets to defeat Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova.

"It doesn't happen too often in a tournament that I won the matches I did with those scores—it was my week and I played really well," she said.

The win gives Kanepi her second title on the WTA tour, her first coming in Palermo in 2010.

It also means she will return to the world's top 30 after falling down the rankings in 2011 due to an Achilles injury.

"History has shown that nothing comes easy for me so I have to continue working hard," she said.

Last year's Brisbane International winner was Petra Kvitova, who like Kanepi was ranked 34th at the time.

The Czech Republic star has since won Wimbledon and is now world number two, hot on the heels of top player Caroline Wozniacki.

Asked if she could follow in her footsteps, Kanepi was in confident mood.

"If I'm playing like this I think I can."


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