BAKU, Azerbaijan - With one of her favorite parts of the season just about to begin, Vera Zvonareva sharpened up her hardcourt game at the inaugural Baku Cup this week, passing a very tough test in the quarterfinals and then cruising to her second WTA title of the year and the 12th of her career.
Zvonareva, the top seed at the International-level event, was pushed particularly hard in her quarterfinal match on Friday, getting to two points from victory at 75 54 against Anna Tatishvili but losing that second set and ending up on the court for over three hours before finally beating the Georgian, 75 67(4) 62.
After a 61 62 win over the Ukraine's Mariya Koryttseva in the semifinals Zvonareva was back on her game, and apart from some trouble closing out the match she had little trouble with No.7 seed Ksenia Pervak in the final, storming out to a 61 41 lead and eventually beating her fellow Russian, 61 64.
"Every single opponent was tough," Zvonareva said. "Right now women's tennis is at a very high level and very competitive, and I know if I don't have my full concentration or give my best there's no chance I'll win a match. Maybe I didn't play my best tennis this week but I still fought very hard and played every match from the first point to the last. It's a great feeling to win at the end of the day."
Zvonareva's first title of the year came at the Premier-level stop in Doha, where she beat No.1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Nine of her 12 career WTA titles have come on hardcourts (also two on clay and one on grass).
Pervak, who turned 20 in May, recently reached her first Grand Slam second week at Wimbledon and was playing in her first career WTA final.
"Vera is a really good player and has a lot of experience. It was tough to play against her," Pervak said. "I don't think I showed my best game but I didn't play that badly in the second set. It was a really tough match but I played well."
In the doubles final, No.2 seeds Koryttseva and Tatiana Poutchek beat No.1 seeds Monica Niculescu and Galina Voskoboeva, 63 26 108, missing four match points in a row from 9-4 up in the match tie-break before finally closing it out. It was their second WTA title together, after Guangzhou in 2008; Koryttseva now has six WTA doubles titles to her name, Poutchek has eight.
"We're really happy. Winning a tournament is always nice and that final was tough," Poutchek said. "Monica and Galina are great doubles players and a great team. We knew it would be tough and we would have to stick together."
"I'm so happy for this week," Koryttseva said. "Finally some results are coming out for me. It has been a good week and I've enjoyed being here so much."