Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Samantha Stosur of Australia pose with their trophies at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex yesterday. PICTURES BY SALIM MATRAMKOT AND SYED OMAR
BY RIZWAN REHMAT
DOHA: World number one and top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus yesterday thrashed third seed Samantha Stosur of Australia in straight sets to win the $2.2m Qatar Total Open.
Azarenka, who nearly went out of the tournament because of a bruised ankle during her semi-final on Saturday, served with precision against the US Open champion to win the lop-sided final 6-1, 6-3 in just 67 minutes.
It was Azarenka’s third title win of the year following victories in Sydney and at the Australian Open last month. The 22-year-old has managed to stretch her winning streak to 17 matches this season, the most by any player on the WTA Tour.
A collage of pictures shows Victoria Azarenka of Belarus celebrating her win at the Qatar Total Open. Azarenka defeated Samantha Stosur of Australia in the final. RIGHT: Azarenka celebrates her win.
Azarenka won the top prize of $386,000 while Stosur - playing her first final of the year - took home $192,000 for her efforts in Doha.
”It is an amazing feeling to have played so unbelievably well today,” Azarenka said. “I played a few good opponents this week and not just Stosur. It was a great event for me,” she added.
When asked about her remarkable streak this year, Azarenka said: “I am just trying to do my best every time I step on the court. I wasn’t 100 percent sure how I would play today (because of the ankle injury on Saturday). I am surprised that everything I hit actually kept going in.”
It was Azarenka’s 11th career title win in singles. Yesterday’s win was Azarenka’s sixth over Stosur in as many matches on the Tour.
Both players traded fiery returns in the first two games, holding their serves. But the script changed for good in just the third game when Azarenka broke Stosur for the first time in the opening set.
At duece, Azarenka saw Stosur return long with a lazy shot and then picked up a ‘lucky’ point when her own return clipped the net chord and deviated from Stosur who had camped close to the net to take the volley.
A couple of unforced errors followed by two powerful forehand shots helped Azarenka to break Stosur - for the second time - in game five. Continuing the one-way traffic, Azarenka broke Stosur in game 7 to take the first set in just 30 minutes.
In the first set, Azarenka won 79 percent of the points on her serves whereas Stosur gifted away points through 14 unforced errors.
After holding serve in the first game of the second set, Azarenka fired two deep forehands to break the Australian for the fourth time in the match and take a 2-0 lead.
However, after losing 8 consecutive games, the US Open champion served well to reduce the margin in game 4 (3-1) of the second set.
Moments later Azarenka - playing in Doha for just the second time - held her serve to go 4-1 up as Stosur lost three points on her backhand.
The Australian, seemingly losing steam and concentration with each point - managed to hold her serve in game 6 to reduce the widening gulf at 4-2.
With the finish line in sight, Azarenka served strong to win game 7 to go 5-2 up. Stosur lost her serve for the fifth time match despite leading 40-15 in game nine. A lazy long return at advantage gave Azarenka the championship and the top prize.
The Minsk-born lost only four games in the final to bag her third trophy of the year. Stosur was guilty of 25 unforced errors in the one-sided final.
“I’m happy with the week that I have had. It’s been great to be able to turn around my form so quickly after a disappointing month first up. I’m really pleased that I have been able to pick it up and make it to the final. As far as tonight goes, yeah, I think she played very well, very solid, as usual. She doesn’t stand up and hit 50 winners a match, but she makes you work for every point and moves very well, stays on the baseline, and really takes the time away from you that way,” Stosur said.
Both players now head to the UAE for this week’s Dubai Tennis Championships.
Earlier, American pair of Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond crushed compatriots Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6-3, 6-1 to win the doubles title in straight sets.