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Suárez Navarro Survives, Wins Doha

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DOHA, Qatar – Carla Suárez Navarro captured the biggest title of her career at the Qatar Total Open, charging back from a set down against 18-year-old Jelena Ostapenko to triumph, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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“I started a little bit nervous and she started really good,” she said in her on-court interview. “It’s not easy to play like this, and I lost the first set but I believed, I fought, I run, and finally I won.”

Ostapenko had beaten the Spaniard in their only prior encounter at last year’s Wimbledon Championships, and started in similar form with a nearly flawless first set in her second WTA final, cracking eight forehand winners en route to winning the opening set.

Playing in her 10th career final, Suárez Navarro drew on her wealth of experience and confidence earned from big wins like the one against No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinal, and stayed with the young Latvian as the teenager – already set to join fellow 18-year-olds Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina in the Top 50 – began to leak errors off the backhand (30 from that side alone). In the end, Ostapenko hit 35 winners to only 9 from the No.8 seed, but 47 total unforced errors made the difference from the Spaniard, who only hit 25.

“It was a great week for me, and congrats to Carla for such a great match today,” Ostapenko said during the trophy ceremony. “I was just trying to play how I can and show my best; I hope you enjoyed watching me play.

“It’s great but it’s just the first step,” she said of adding to the largest sum of Top 50 teens since April 2009 (Caroline Wozniacki, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Sorana Cirstea). “My goal is to be even higher, so I hope I can make it.”

For Suárez Navarro, Doha is her second WTA title, one that brings her up to a career-high ranking of No.6, and No.2 on the Road To Singapore standings behind reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

“It’s amazing, a dream come true. I was in Top 10 last year but not No.6, so it’s a special number.

“This tournament was really tough. The best players in the world were here, and it’s so special. You have to play every day, and it’s not easy.

“But these wins give me a lot of confidence, the experience that I take from this. I’ve lost a lot of finals, so I’m really happy and excited about this tournament.”

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Chan Sisters Capture Doha Doubles

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DOHA, Qatar – Carla Suárez Navarro returned to the main stage of the Qatar Total Open to play the doubles final with Sara Errani, having just won the singles title over Jelena Ostapenko a mere hours before. Pushing No.4 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching tough over two sets, the sisters ultimately defeated the Spaniard and Italian, 6-3, 6-3, to win their second tournament of 2016.

“Today’s match wasn’t easy, despite the score,” elder sister Yung-Jan said during the on-court interview. “They’re for sure very tough opponents who’ve been playing really well. I was sick and having a fever, coughing, but we’re happy to make it until the last match!”

The Chans won their home tournament just two weeks ago at the Taiwan Open, donating their prize money to their country’s hurricane relief effort, and played a near-perfect final against Errani and Suárez Navarro, hitting 21 winners to only 10 errors – a far cleaner match than their opponents, who hit 19 winners and 22 unforced.

“It’s the first time we’ve played together at the Qatar Open, but we’re the champions!” Hao-Ching said. “So we’re very happy and would like to come back next year.”

For the runners-up, it’s still a stellar Middle East Swing, as Errani already walked away with the title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships while Suárez Navarro won Doha, and the pair reached the semifinals in Dubai’s doubles event, as well.

“It was two very nice weeks for us,” Errani said. “I’m very happy to play doubles with Carla; it’s amazing. She did an unbelievably great job playing singles and doubles.”

“I cannot wait to play our next tournament together. We had fun here and played well,” Suárez added.

As for the Chans, the win in Doha propels them to No.2 on the Road to Singapore standings, one behind Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza; until this week’s loss to Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina, the No.4 seeds were the last team to beat Santina before they went on a 41-match winning streak.

“Already No.2? I think that’s a pretty good start to the year!” Yung-Jan said.

“We’re very happy, but we didn’t check before the match, so it’s a surprise for us!” Hao-Ching said as the sisters shared a laugh during the trophy ceremony.

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Stephens Wins Acapulco Title In Epic

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

ACAPULCO, Mexico – No.2 seed Sloane Stephens needed a final set tie-break against unseeded former Australian Open finalist and 2014 Abierto Mexicano Telcel champion Dominika Cibulkova, but the American finally got the job done against the Slovak, winning, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5).

“I got a little bit better today because of her, and I wouldn’t want to have this memory with anyone else,” Stephens said of Cibulkova during the trophy ceremony.

Stephens led Cibulkova by a set and a break before the 26-year-old, who won their previous encounter at last year’s Rogers Cup, roared back to level the match at a set apiece. In what became the longest final thus far in 2016, the two fought through several long games in the final set before heading to a tie-break. Racing out to a 5-2 lead, Stephens held three match points, converting her third on a Cibulkova forehand error.

“We had a great week and a great start to the year, and I’m looking forward to keeping it going.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played in front of a crowd quite like this. Thank you for letting me experience this in Acapulco because it’s something I’ll remember forever.”

“This is one of my favorite tournaments,” Cibulkova said in her runner-up speech. “It feels like home because of the people who work here and all the fans and sponsors. I’m a little disappointed with the result today, but that’s tennis. I hope to be back here next year and maybe get the trophy again.:

Having started the year with a title at the ASB Classic – where she beat former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki en route – Stephens now has three WTA titles and, most impressively, remains undefeated in finals (winning her first title last year at the Citi Open).

The doubles final took place earlier in the evening, and top seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja defeated No.2 seeds Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, 6-0, 6-4.

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Suárez Navarro Swats Aside Radwanska

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DOHA, Qatar – Carla Suárez Navarro produced 62 minutes of immaculate tennis to swat aside No.3 seed Agnieszka Radwanska and take her place in the final of the Qatar Total Open.

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In one of the best performances of her career, Suárez Navarro outthought and outplayed the WTA’s resident magician to run out a surprisingly comfortable 6-2, 6-0 winner.

After an even start, Suárez Navarro laid down a marker in the fifth game, flashing winners off either wing to get her nose in front. A few games later she had the insurance break before calmly serving out the set.

A nasty tumble in the first game of the second set briefly halted the Spaniard’s charge. But after dusting herself down, normal service was immediately resumed: a whipped cross-court forehand and then a wonderful instinctive volley handing her the break.

In stark contrast, Radwanska cut a forlorn figure, the brilliance that decorated her three-set victory over Roberta Vinci the previous evening conspicuous by its absence. The Pole’s mood darkened in the following game when she netted a routine forehand to spurn a rare break opportunity.

With Suárez Navarro’s groundstrokes now in full flow, Radwanska was soon put out of her misery, the final four games flying by in a flurry of winners. 

“Today I feel really, really good,” Suárez Navarro, who hit 20 winners and just eight unforced errors, said. “I think also she was a little tired from yesterday.”

Suárez Navarro is also hoping to reach the doubles final with partner Sara Errani, and was quick to dismiss any suggestion that her visit from the trainer would jeopardize their chances. “I’m running a lot, I fight a lot, and sometime I finish like that,” she said when asked about the after effects of her second set slip. “But now I feel good and I have doubles – I’m feeling better!”

By reaching the semifinals Suárez Navarro guaranteed a return to the Top 10 and her latest win will see her rise to a career-high No.6 in the new rankings. 

“You work for a long time for this. And to be in the Top 10 is obviously good. I feel good, I feel happy and I think I’m ready for tomorrow.”

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Ostapenko Reaches Doha Final

  • Posted: Jan 01, 1970

DOHA, Qatar – Unseeded 18 year old Jelena Ostapenko displayed some blistering groundstrokes through a 7-5 opening set in the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open, and was leading by an early break in the second before Andrea Petkovic was forced to retire due to injury.

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Petkovic survived several long games to take a 5-1 lead to start, but pain in her left thigh and increased pressure from Ostapenko saw that lead slip and the Latvian served out the opening set after winning six games in a row, hitting 26 winners to 17 unforced errors.

“I’m really happy with how I played today,” she said in her on-court interview. “I’m sorry for Andrea that she had to retire. It’s not nice after reaching the semis because she’s great player. I’m really happy that I could fight from 5-1 and win the set.

“I’m really happy to play the finals tomorrow.”

Up next for Ostapenko is No.8 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, who dismantled Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2, 6-0, in the first semifinal. Into her second career final – and the biggest of her career after she finished runner-up at the Coupe Banque National last fall – Ostapenko beat Suárez Navarro in their only previous encounter, dropping just two games when they played at last year’s Wimbledon Championships. 

“She has been playing great this week; she had some really great matches and I hope I can show my best tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.”

A young woman of few words, the Latvian is poised to crack the Top 50 after an impressive week of wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova and Petra Kvitova, joining fellow 18-year-olds Belinda Bencic and Daria Kasatkina.

“It’s just the start of the career; I don’t think I have anything to celebrate because I still have to play the finals tomorrow!”

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