Krajicek Comes Full Circle at Ordina Open

Posted on June 25, 2006

'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, The Netherlands -- A day after pulling off an inspired semifinal comeback over top seed Elena Dementieva, Dutch teenager Michaella Krajicek gave her home crowd even more to cheer about, downing No.2-seeded Dinara Safina in straight sets, 63 64, to win the Tier III Ordina Open, the third and biggest Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title of her career.

The two finalists, both younger sisters of ATP standouts, showcased their powerful serves and baseline aggression throughout the final, but it was Krajicek who was the more consistent of the two during the rallies. After a relatively routine first set, the Dutch teen broke in the seventh game of the second set to take a decisive lead. She served it out in the 10th game, blasting a service winner on her second match point.

"I'm happy the way I served; my brother said the same thing," said Krajicek, sister of former Wimbledon champion and two-time 's-Hertogenbosch winner Richard Krajicek. "When the match started, I felt very confident. I was not nervous like I was yesterday. I didn't have anything to lose so I went for it. I felt very free to make my shots."

"She played very well," Safina said. "But I'm very disappointed. I made it too easy for her. She noticed that I was struggling with my shots and she took advantage of that. She's a great player, and she did what you should do to win."

Krajicek was in superb form throughout the Ordina Open week, notching several impressive wins. Unseeded, she opened with an upset of No.3 seed Flavia Pennetta, which at the time served as her second career Top 20 win. After victories over unseeded defending champion Klara Koukalova and No.8 seed Jelena Jankovic, the 17-year-old pulled off her first ever Top 10 win in the semis, stunning Dementieva, 16 76(5) 64, saving a match point while trailing 5-4 in the second set. On Saturday she downed Safina for another Top 20 victory.

"This is my nicest title so far. I really enjoyed playing in front of the home crowd who was cheering for me. Center court was full and it felt like home. I think I'm the type of player who likes to play for the crowd and I play better that way."

The victory also avenges a disappointing turn of events at this tournament a year ago, where Krajicek reached what at the time was her first quarterfinal, then suffered a right knee injury, retiring from the match and undergoing surgery the day after to repair a lateral meniscus tear. She was out for three months, but resumed her rapid rise almost immediately after coming back.

"My physical state is so important, that is what I've realized in the last year. I was focusing only on tennis before this tournament last year, and not enough on my physical condition. These titles show why it is so important I went through this."

Krajicek is now 3-0 lifetime in finals, having also won her first two championship matches at Tier IV events in Tashkent last year and at Hobart earlier this year. She is now just the fifth multiple Tour singles titlist this season, and the fourth player this season to win a title having saved match point en route.

Safina fell to 4-3 lifetime in Tour singles finals, but still remained optimistic as to the positive preparation for Wimbledon her Ordina Open week provided.

"This has been very good preparation for me," said the Russian, younger sister of two-time Grand Slam winner Marat Safin. "I'm happy I was able to switch my mind to grass and be able to make adjustments to a very different surface."

Other players who left lasting impressions on the lawns of the Autotron Rosmalen included the two losing semifinalists, two veteran quarterfinalists on the injury comeback trail, and a pair of Chinese record-setters.

Dementieva, who dropped the aforementioned nail-biter to Krajicek, ran her grass record to 21-12 with a run to the semis; then there was Eleni Daniilidou, a former Top 15 player now ranked No.67, who reached her first semifinal of the year, extending her grass court mark to 26-12 before falling to Safina in three.

Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, like Krajicek buoyed by her home crowd, won the first two matches of her 2006 comeback (after six years out due to a back injury) en route to a quarterfinal showing; likewise, Argentina's Paola Suarez, whose 2006 has been hindered by a right calf strain, won consecutive matches for the first time this season en route to the quarters, where she unfortunately had to retire due to an injury to her left calf.

Finally, there was Chinese tandem Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, who won the women's doubles title. The top seeds, they defeated unseeded pair Ana Ivanovic and Maria Kirilenko in three sets in the final. It was their fourth title of 2006 together and sixth overall, their biggest win coming at the 2006 Australian Open, becoming the first Chinese Grand Slam titlists. They also won in Berlin, a Tier I event.
-- WTA