No. 2 seed Andrea Hlavackova relied on her powerful forehand, superb ball placement, and concentration to win the EmblemHealth Bronx Open Singles Championship, beating top-ranked German Mona Barthel 7-6 (8), 6-3.
Heavy rain all morning forced the match indoors at the Tennis Club of Riverdale (NY) where both players struggled at first to settle into the new conditions.
â€œI didnâ€™t start very well,â€ Hlavackova, 25, said. â€œI got broken in the first game because everything was new, and I was not prepared for the conditions.â€
Still, Hlavackovaâ€™s maturity helped keep the Czech focused while the younger Barthel, 21, seemed to let her constant questioning of umpiresâ€™ calls distract her from her game.
â€œEven though I need to work on it still, I think my attitude made the difference today. We both argued with the umpire, but tennis players always do that because there is so much pressure on us,â€ said Hlavackova, who made her displeasure known a few times about out-of-bounds calls. â€œBut I think I handled it well. I might have argued with the umpire, but I didnâ€™t let it influence my game. Mona did.â€
Experience was also a deciding factor. Hlavackova boasts an impressive resume, reaching 13 singles finals, claiming five of those titles, and winning her first career Grand Slam title this May at the French Open capturing the womenâ€™s doubles. By comparison, 21-year-old Barthel has played in six singles finals, winning three.
Hlavackova, currently ranked world No. 127, won an up-and-down first set 7-6 (8) after a thrilling tie-breaker. The match began with a focus on serving, as both Barthel and Hlavackova struggled to find any sense of rhythm in the indoor bubble. After winning the first game thanks in part to Hlavackova hitting her first three forehands into the net, Barthel showcased her beautiful serve, scoring two aces to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
Hlavackova quickly responded with two powerful aces of her own to win the third game and cut the lead to 2-1. What was possibly more surprising, however, was both playersâ€™ inability to successfully return the serves they did reach. In fact, only one rally in the first five games lasted more than 10 seconds as Hlavackova and Barthel mishit return after return wide of the court or into the net.
The shaky play continued during the next two games. Hlavackova committed two double faults to give Barthel a 3-2 lead. However, Barthel, world No. 101, immediately returned the favor, committing two double faults of her own in the proceeding game to tie the set at 3-3. Coming back from a 4-5 deficit, Barthel won a marathon 11th game that included some expertly placed forehands to the corner by Hlavackova to force deuce four times to go ahead 6-5. Despite a medical timeout to have her left hamstring taped up, Hlavackova was able to tie the set at six all. The two then began a tiebreak that stayed neck-and-neck until Hlavackova was able to break away and win 10-8.
â€œThe tiebreaker was super close,â€ she said. â€œIt was very well played. She served well in the tiebreak but I played it well and had good baseline play and I think thatâ€™s why I won the tiebreak.â€
After the two broke each otherâ€™s serves in the first two games of the second set, Barthelâ€™s inconsistency again cost her as she double faulted to give Hlavackova a 2-1 lead. The Czech would not look back. Employing her booming forehand and excellent accuracy, Hlavackova was able to run down Barthel and take the set–and championship– 6-3.
â€œIn the second set I had better confidence right from the beginning,â€ Hlavackova said. â€œIt was about putting the best fight I could and thatâ€™s what I did and I think thatâ€™s why I won.â€
Hlavackova finished with 11 forehand winners, five backhand winners, and two aces while Barthel had eight forehand winners, seven backhand winners, and four aces.
The loss was a disappointing finish to an otherwise remarkable tournament for Barthel. Before Sundayâ€™s final, the German had lost only one set the entire tournament. Using her crafty serves and strong backhand, she was able to plow through the first four rounds of the tournament with little difficulty. The German, who has been playing professionally for only two years, is expected to be the top seed in next weekâ€™s US Open qualifying.
Hlavackovaâ€™s victory should be especially helpful for her confidence as she, too, prepares to qualify for the US Open.
â€œIt does alot for my confidence going into the US Open because the cut here was even tougher than the qualifiers for the US Open,â€ she said. â€œI won five tough matches where I didnâ€™t always play great. But it taught me that sometimes winning ugly is just as good.â€
by Jeremy Klitzman
Sunday, August 14 – RESULTS
Singles â€“ Final
Andrea HLAVACKOVA , Czech Republic, def. Mona BARTHEL , Germany, 7-6 (8), 6-3
Report provided by sportsplus