Van Uytvanck rips up form book to claim title

TEEN SENSATION::As well as earning her US$20,000, Van Uytvanck’s win means her ranking will be sufficiently high for her to be seeded in qualifying at the Australian Open

By Tony Phillips  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Nov 11, 2013 - Page 20

Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck won the OEC Taipei WTA Challenger singles title yesterday with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2 victory over compatriot and No. 2 seed Yanina Wickmayer at the Taipei Arena.

World No. 129 Van Uytvanck made a mockery of the 70 places between herself and Wickmayer in the WTA rankings, dominating from start to finish in a match where she not only held her serve throughout, but did not face a single break point.

It was a fitting finale, an unseeded player winning a tournament that was full of surprises, with only two seeds making it through to the second round.

Van Uytvanck broke Wickmayer in the opening game, showing no sign of nerves in her first WTA final.

Leading 5-4, she sent down a serve that was called out on the first of three set points. The 19-year-old challenged the call, the big screen showed the ball had clipped the center line and the ace earned Van Uytvanck the set.

Wickmayer immediately dropped her serve in the first game of the second set and the writing was on the wall when she dumped a forehand into the net at 0-40 down in her next service game.

The world No. 59 survived the first match point in the eighth game, but on the second Wickmayer hit a backhand into the net, eliciting a scream of delight from Van Uytvanck, who immediately ran over to embrace her coach sitting at courtside.

After the match, Van Uytvanck said her underdog status probably worked in her favor.

“She [Wickmayer] had probably more pressure than I had, so maybe that was my advantage,” Van Uytvanck said.

As well as earning her US$20,000, Van Uytvanck’s success means her ranking will be sufficiently high for the 19-year-old to be seeded for qualifying at next year’s Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, with a possibility she could make the main draw.

Van Uytvanck’s immediate goal is to boost her ranking.

“I want to enter the top 100 as quick as possible and then who knows, maybe top 80, try to go for that,” she said.

The Belgian teenager was back in action in the doubles final, teaming up with Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam to take on Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan and France’s Caroline Garcia.

This time Van Uytvanck came out second best as Shvedova and Garcia earned a 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Garcia was delighted with her first WTA doubles title, all the more impressive because it was the first tournament she and Shvedova had played together.

The French player had sounded out Shvedova about teaming up in the past, but the Moscow-born 26-year-old had always lined up a partner already.

“I had to book her one year in advance,” Garcia joked when asked how they had come to play together in Taipei.

Shvedova described how the partnership progressed during the course of the week.

“Every match in the tournament we were playing better and better,” Shvedova said. “She [Garcia] is a very good player ... so I was happy to have her on my side and happy to win together.”

Tongue in cheek, she also put the success down to the local food.

“Yesterday, I ate Taiwanese hot pot,” Shvedova said. “I liked it a lot and I had a lot of energy today to win my match, so maybe next time I’ll want to eat it again.”