at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Indian Wells, United States – Italy's Flavia Pennetta routed world number three Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday to win the Indian Wells WTA crown.
Pennetta, 32, claimed the biggest title of her career, needing just one hour and 13 minutes to blow past Poland's second-seeded Radwanska, who was hobbled by a left leg injury.
Pennetta's victims in the $12 million (8.6 million euros) combined WTA and ATP Masters tournament included world number two and top seed Li Na of China as well as former US Open champion Samantha Stosur.
Pennetta claimed the 10th WTA title of her career and her first since Marbella in 2010. Since then Pennetta had battled through a dismal 2012 season in which she struggled with both a back and wrist injury, dropping as low as 166th in the world.
She was considering retirement before reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last year, but Pennetta, who in 2009 became the first Italian to reach the world top 10, will now make it back into the top 15 in the world.
“It's incredible, something amazing,” Pennetta said, recalling almost being in tears after falling in the first round to compatriot Francesca Schiavone here last year.
“The feeling and everything was so bad,” she said. “And now, after one year, we have the trophy.”
Pennetta saved both break points she faced in the match and broke Radwanska in the fifth and seventh games of the opening set, pocketing the first frame with a backhand winner down the line.
After holding serve to open the second set, Radwanska called for the trainer and had supportive tape applied around her left knee.
She seemed frustrated by reduced mobility as she dropped her serve to trail 2-1 in the second, and didn't win another game.
She bravely fought off one match point in the final game, but a double fault and forehand wide gave Pennetta another chance, and the Italian clinched it when Radwanska sailed a forehand long.
Pennetta said the challenge in the second set was to maintain her concentration.
“The first set was I think pretty good,” Pennetta said. “I tried to go for winners.
“Second set, I see she has a physical problem and I started thinking too much.”
Radwanska fought to hold back tears at the trophy presentation.
“I think it's just the worst thing for a player to not give the 100 percent, especially in the final of the big event,” she said.
“And I just couldn't run as much as I normally do. Just bad luck.”
Radwanska said she would receive treatment on her knee, and try to be ready to play in the prestigious hardcourt tournament that starts Wednesday in Miami, where she lifted the trophy in 2012.
“It's still couple days to my first match, so of course I will have a few days off, then we will see,” she said. “It's big tournament, so I will really want to try.” – Sapa-AFP