15-Year-Old Tamira Paszek Into WTA Portoroz Final

Posted on September 24, 2006

PORTOROZ, Slovenia -- The breakout star of the Banka Koper Slovenia Open kept winning Saturday, albeit due to an unfortunate twist of fate. Playing in just her third Sony Ericsson WTA Tour main draw, Austrian teenager Tamira Paszek reached her first final after France's Emilie Loit was forced to retire in the second set of their semifinal match. She'll play Italy's Maria Elena Camerin for the title.

Loit, seeded No.7, was in control early in the match, using her crafty baseline game to force numerous errors from her opponent, and taking control when appropriate with her big, lefty forehand. But Paszek regrouped after dropping the first set, 6-4, and began finding the range on her powerful groundstrokes. She broke in the opening game of the second set, held serve and had a pair of break points at 2-0 when disaster struck.

"At the end of the first set I began having big problems," said Loit, who retired due to a left wrist sprain. "I made a few bad shots then had some pain. I played too much this week, singles and doubles. I feel very sad. It's tough to end a tournament like this. It's terrible for me but that's the game. I had a chance to be in the final. But I enjoyed this week a lot, and I'll for sure be back next year."

"I don't know if I'm happy or sad; it's tough to win a match because somebody retires," Paszek said. "It was a tough match. She played great tennis, didn't miss a lot, moved me around a lot, placed the balls well. In the second set I just tried to play with fewer mistakes. The match was open again; I was up 2-0, 40-15, a chance to get a second break. I don't know how this match would've ended.

"It's sad, because you work so hard and have to retire in a semifinal of a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event. But, I have to be happy now and focus for tomorrow."

Paszek, 15, showed flashes of brilliance in her two previous main draw attempts, at Linz last year, and Istanbul this year. In front of her Austrian home crowd, she won a thriller against Elena Vesnina before dropping a tight two-setter to Ana Ivanovic; and in Turkey she beat Alicia Molik, falling in three to Catalina Casta��She is also coming off her second junior major runner-up finish at the US Open.

"This has come so unexpected," said the Austrian, whose father is from Tanzania and whose mother is Chilean. "I was not feeling so well before the tournament. I'd just come home from New York, where I had 11 matches in a row, with singles and doubles, and with the time difference and change of court, I just didn't play for three days. So I wasn't feeling so well. But I feel great here."

In Saturday's second semifinal, the No.6-seeded Camerin beat No.8-seeded compatriot Tathiana Garbin, 75 62. The two battled it out mainly from the baseline, but it was Camerin who was more willing to take the offense, cruising through the second set to reach her second Tour singles final, having finished runner-up at Casablanca in 2001.

"It was very tough today, we missed a lot and didn't make a very good match; maybe I was stronger mentally," said Camerin, who was coming off a quarterfinal victory that took more than three hours. "I have a lot of energy for the final. This is my work; I'm ready for every match, every day. I don't know much about Paszek; I know she is young and hits very hard, and she'll be tough tomorrow."

While the singles final between Paszek and Camerin takes the court Sunday, it was on Saturday that the doubles winner was determined. Due to Loit's injury, the title went to No.4-seeded Czechs Lucie Hradecka and Renata Voracova, who won by default over the No.2-seeded pair of Loit and another Czech, Eva Birnerova. The win represents Hradecka's first Tour title and Voracova's second, after her 2002 Pattaya City doubles triumph partnering Ireland's Kelly Liggan.
-- WTA