Victoria Azarenka extended her domination over Samantha Stosur to win her third successive title of the year at the WTA Qatar Open on Sunday, taking her record this year to 17 straight wins.
The Belarussian world No. 1 showed no signs of discomfort from her overnight injury scare in the semi-finals against Agnieszka Radwanska by beating a listless Stosur, the US Open champion, 6-1, 6-2 in a one-sided final.
The Qatar Open was Azarenka’s 11th title, 10 of them coming on hard courts, as she maintained her perfect record against the Australian, who she has beaten in five career clashes beginning in 2008, with none of the matches going to three sets.
Sunday’s win also completed a remarkable 12 months for Azarenka, who lost to Daniela Hantuchova in the first round in Doha last year, a defeat that led her to contemplate retirement, before she was talked out of it by her mother and grandmother.
“I am really proud of the way I played today,” Azarenka said, fighting back tears. “I was not 100 percent after my fall yesterday, and I knew I had to adjust my game and everything went according to plan.”
Stosur was bidding for her fourth title, but Azarenka was too good for the world No. 5, despite rarely hitting top gear.
The Australian Open champion broke Stosur in the third game of the first set from 40-40 when the Aussie hit a ball long and then netted an easy volley.
Stosur again made crucial unforced errors in her next service game, putting a forehand into the net and then missing an easy smash, before a powerful forehand return fetched Azarenka her second break.
The Belarussian then retained her serve to lead 5-1 and, following another error-ridden service game by Stosur, clinched the set with a fine volley.
The second set was also played along the same pattern, as Stosur failed to reduce her errors and soon Azarenka had taken a stranglehold on the match by racing to a 3-0 lead.
Although the Australian managed to win two service games, Azarenka then broke her again in the eighth game to maintain a 100 percent record in finals this year.
COPA BBVA COLSANITAS
Lara Arruabarrena-Vecino of Spain won her first WTA Tour title by defeating Alexandra Panova of Russia 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday in the final of the Copa BBVA Colsanitas.
The event was bound to produce an unexpected winner after all eight seeded players were knocked out in the first two rounds, some bothered by the altitude of 2,600m in the Colombian capital.