Dulko Dons Fes After WTA Win

Posted on May 5, 2008

FES, Morocco -- Two of the game's most dangerous clay court players made their way into the final of the $145,000 Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem, and once there they continued to show why they are such a threat on the surface. It may have taken two hours and 38 minutes but a determined Gisela Dulko defeated Anabel Medina Garrigues in a tight two set clash for her third career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title, and first of the new year.

Coming into the title match the odds seemed against Dulko: she had lost her last meeting with Medina Garrigues, and No.2 seeds were 0-3 against No.1 seeds in finals on the Tour this season. She was even broken early by her opponent in each set but battled back each time, using her spins and angles to perfection and eventually prevailing, 76(2) 76(5).

"It was a really tough match; Anabel is a great player, especially here on clay," Dulko said. "It was a really physical match. We had very long points and even though it was only two sets it was close to three hours. In both tie-breaks I took my opportunities and went for my shots -- that probably made the difference today, even though I missed sometimes."

"I'm disappointed to lose," Medina Garrigues said. "I was happy to make the final but I couldn't play my best. She was playing smart, hitting a lot of high balls, and it was difficult for me to stay aggressive. It's too bad, because I came into this match really ready to play."

Dulko took home her third career Tour singles title, having won at Budapest and Forest Hills last year. She has now won three finals in a row after losing her first two, at Hobart in 2005 and Pattaya City early last year.

"It feels amazing to win a title; I came all the way from Argentina for this," Dulko said. "It was a really long flight and I was very prepared for this tournament, and this is what you come to a tournament for."

Medina Garrigues was playing her 11th career Tour singles final, and is now 7-4 in those. She had a far more nail-biting path to the final than Dulko, highlighted by a 36 76(4) 61 second round victory over Sesil Karatantcheva, in which she came back from 63 53 down and saved a match point down 63 54.

"She was playing so well," Medina Garrigues said on Karatantcheva. "She even had a match point but I was able to pull the match out. I think it gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament."

Dulko's path to the final was smoother as she lost only 10 games in her first three matches, but she also had a tight one in the semis, beating No.4 seed Aravane Rezai, 76(6) 63. Rezai had a set point in the air-tight first set.

"Rezai was really tough; she hits the ball so hard, sometimes you can't even see it going past you," Dulko said. "But I played well in that one and pretty much all week. I was pretty fresh going into the final."

Dulko takes her five-match win streak to Berlin, Germany, for the Qatar Telecom German Open -- but not before taking a little bit of a break.

"I'm really excited about Berlin but my flight isn't until tomorrow, so I'm going to take some time out tonight to escape from it all. We'll be going to the old town, Medina, just to enjoy ourselves and relax. I had Fed Cup matches last weekend and five matches this week, so I need just a little break! Then I'll go to Berlin tomorrow, as soon as possible."

Teenagers Sorana Cirstea and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova captured the doubles title with a 35-minute, 62 62 clobbering of No.3 seeds Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova in Saturday's final. Both Cirstea and Pavlyuchenkova won their first Tour titles of any kind. It was their first time playing as a team.
-- Sony Ericsson WTA Tour