China’s Peng Shuai beat Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-1, 6-4 to claim the OEC Taipei Ladies Open singles title yesterday, while Taiwanese duo Chang Kai-chen and Chuang Chia-chung defeated Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Sania Mirza of India 6-4, 6-2 to land the doubles title.
It was No. 5 seed Peng’s first tournament win at the Taipei Arena, while Chuang defended her title, albeit with a different partner, having triumphed last year with compatriot Chan Yung-jan.
The contest between Peng and Morita was more even than the score suggests, but the world No. 95’s victory owed much to her ability to conjure up superb winners when it mattered most.
Morita dropped her serve in the fourth game of the first set, but Peng had to fight back from 0-40 in the next, an ace making it deuce. That was only the beginning of the drama though, as seven more deuces followed, as well as three more break-points that the Japanese failed to grab. Consecutive aces from Peng won the game.
A fantastic forehand at full stretch that landed smack on the line earned Peng another break in the next game and she took the set with a spectacular running backhand on her first set-point in game seven.
Both players had trouble holding their serve in the second set, but a cross-court backhand winner from Peng earned the most decisive break to leave her to serve for the title at 5-4.
Another backhand winner made it match-point and a forehand winner ended the contest.
Peng proved a worthy champion, having lost only one set all week, and displayed the kind of form that might see her get somewhere near her previous best singles ranking of 31 in the near future.
The 24-year-old, who overcame a childhood heart problem before embarking on her tennis career, must have a good shout at claiming gold on home soil at the Asian Games in Guangzhou later this month.
In a courtside interview after the match, Morita, who is also taking part in the Asian Games, said she would be back in Taipei next year. No doubt she’ll be hoping to make it third time lucky, having lost in last year’s final too.
In the day’s second title decider, Chuang showed why she is regarded as one of the best doubles players in the world, while Chang looked like the latest addition to an impressive collection of Taiwanese female doubles players.
Their comfortable victory over the No. 2 seeds, Hsieh and Mirza, both accomplished doubles players, was achieved despite them not being regular doubles partners and they too only dropped one set all week.
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Reuters, BALI, Indonesia
Ana Ivanovic ended the season on a positive note by defeating Alisa Kleybanova 6-2, 7-6 (7/5) in the final of the Tournament of Champions in Bali yesterday.
Ivanovic weathered some heavy hitting from her Russian opponent, before breaking to lead 4-2 and she then won the final 11 points of the first set.
Kleybanova broke to lead 2-1 in the second, but Ivanovic immediately broke back with a stunning winner down the line and her resilience under pressure, together with some fine serving, continued to give her the advantage.
Ivanovic faced a crisis at 5-5, but saved two break-points and went on to claim victory with her eighth ace of the match.
In the third-fourth place playoff earlier yesterday, Japan’s Kimiko Date Krumm defeated Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 7-5, 7-5.