Unlikely Qualifier Dulgheru Wins WTA Warsaw Open

Posted on May 23, 2009

World No. 201-ranked Romanian and tournament qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru beat Alona Bondarenko on Saturday for her first WTA Tour title at the Warsaw Open.

The 19 year old ousted seeds Sara Errani and Daniela Hantuchova en route to the final.

"I didn't expect to win. I don't know what happened that I was playing so well," Dulgheru said. "I knew Alona was a very solid player, especially from the baseline. My plan was to play with topspin because when I tried to play with her rhythm she was too powerful. I had to use every drop of energy I had to win."

Bondarenko was a runner-up in Warsaw two years ago to then world No. 1 Justine Henin.

"I hope when I come here next time I'll finally win," Bondarenko said. "I was a little nervous at the beginning of the third set. She got an early lead and played too well. I couldn't do anything. I didn't know how to beat Alexandra today. But I expected her to play well."

Dulgheru is the fifth player to win a tour singles title ranked outside the Top 200, joining Angelique Widjaja at 2001 Bali (No.579), Fabiola Zuluaga at 2002 Bogota (No.285), Tamira Paszek at 2006 Portoroz (No.259) and Lindsay Davenport at 2007 Bali (No.234).

"I am incredibly happy with this win," she said. "Coming here I wanted to go through the qualifying and then just take it one match at a time, and if I lost just learn from my mistakes and move on. I think I have to improve a lot of things still, like I need to be more aggressive and do more physical work to keep my rhythm up."

Maria Sharapova made her 2009 singles debut at the event, losing in the quarters.

In the doubles, Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Bethanie Mattek-Sands beat two-time Slam winners Yan Zi and Zheng Jie in the final 6-1, 6-1.

"This is the first time we played together. We played tough teams but we had good chemistry," said Mattek-Sands. "We both have regular partners outside of this event we're going back to, but we'd love to play together again."