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Ivanovic storms to Linz Open title

October 27, 2008 13:06 IST

Ana Ivanovic claimed her first title since she lifted the French Open trophy in June, beating second seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday to win the Linz Open.

It was the top-seeded Serbian's third title this year and came after a dramatic slump that followed her Paris victory and rise to number one in the world rankings.

The 20-year-old struggled to deal with the magnitude of her success and then suffered a painful thumb injury that put her out of the Beijing Olympics. At one stage she won just five out of 11 matches, before regaining her form by reaching the semi-finals of the Zurich Open last week.

"It's great to be in the final and win again," said Ivanovic. "I'm very, very happy. I've started to feel my game again and I've been playing better and better each match.

"Before, I was too stressed about injury and wanted to win so much, but now I've started to enjoy playing and competing again."

Zvonareva was also seeking her third title of the season, after winning in Prague and Guangzhou, at the end of a week in which she qualified for the season-ending WTA Championships to be held in Doha from November 4 to 9.


The only positive aspect of the 50-minute match for Zvonareva was that she won the toss but even that turned into a negative after she elected to serve and was promptly broken to love.

She went on to lose the first eight points and was then broken a second time to fall behind 3-0 before briefly threatening to stage a comeback.

Ivanovic helped her, looking a little casual as she easily gave away several points before a careless forehand error allowed Zvonareva to break. The Russian's revival collapsed in the next game when she double faulted three times and Ivanovic broke again to lead 4-1.

The second set followed a similar pattern, with a fifth double fault allowing Ivanovic to break to love to lead 1-0. Another break for 4-1 when Zvonareva netted a backhand ended any suggestion of a turnaround and a further backhand error gave Ivanovic another break and the match.

"I expected a very tough match," said Ivanovic. "But from the first point on I felt really good. I felt I was putting a lot of pressure on her serve and even if I made a mistake on the next shot I would commit and play aggressive. That's exactly what I needed to do. I think I played almost a perfect match."

Zvonareva admitted that the strain of trying to qualify for Doha had left her drained.

"She played very good and I probably paid the price today for playing seven weeks in row," Zvonareva told reporters. "I couldn't keep my concentration on a single point today so it was very difficult.

"I made my choice after the US Open to play every week because there were a lot of girls who wanted to get into the Championships and at the end of the day I got to where I wanted to be. But today I had to pay the price. I couldn't push myself any more."

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