Petrova stuns Radwanska, clinches Pan Pacific Open crown

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Tokyo, Japan (4E Sports) – Nadia Petrova survived a nagging back injury to beat defending champion and world No .3 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-0, 1-6, 6-3, and capture the 12th and biggest WTA title of her career Saturday at the Toray Pan Pacific Open.

Petrova played almost flawless tennis in the first set, hitting 16 winners to three unforced errors, but things went worse in the second set when she committed 14 unforced mistakes, allowing Radwanska to clinch it, 6-1.

“I played great in the first set but may have used too much energy, and in the second set I felt flat,” Petrova told wtatennis.com. “It took me a while to recuperate and get back into the game. After the second set when I went to change my clothes, I had a few minutes to think about what to focus on in the third set.”

In the third set, the protagonists had three deadlocks before Petrova held serve for a 4-3 advantage before breaking Radwanska for a 5-3 lead. Then she served out the match, finishing with a huge forehand volley winner.

“After running out of gas in the second set, I don’t know where I found the strength and willpower to fight in the third set, but I did and it feels amazing,” Petrova said. “This is the biggest tournament I’ve ever won. It’s a great accomplishment. And at the beginning of the tournament I definitely didn’t expect to win the title, because of the back injury I’ve been struggling with.

It was the first time in Petrova’s career that she beat three top 10 players in the same event. She earlier downed No. 7 Sara Errani in the quarterfinals and No. 9 Samantha Stosur in the final four before beating Radwanska in the final.

“I’m disappointed – I wanted to win this title so much, and when you’re so close and feel you can make it, it’s always emotional if you don’t,” Radwanska said. “But she was playing really well. Her biggest weapon is her serve, for sure, but also her return was very good today.”

Meanwhile, second seed Richard Gasquet and fourth seed Gilles Simon have sealed an all-French final at the Thailand Open after disposing of separate rivals in the semifinal.

Simon, the 2009 titlist, beat top seed Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 6-4 while Gasquet scored a 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 comeback win over seventh-seeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen.

“It was a very, very good match today and I couldn’t have done better than that,” said Simon. “Janko has been playing amazing tennis since last year; he is hitting hard and isn’t losing a lot. I think I played the perfect match, but it will still close. It gives me confidence for the final.”

At the Malaysian Open, second seed Juan Monaco and seventh seed Julien Benneteau tallied memorable wins to reach the final.

Benneteau knocked out top seed David Ferrer, 6-4, 6-1 in one hour and 38 minutes by converting five of his six break point opportunities.

“It was difficult to beat him, because David is a very solid player,” said Benneteau. “I knew I had an opportunity, as I had beaten him in the past. I am happy I did it. My chances are 50-50 for the final. Monaco is a very consistent player.”

Monaco booked a place in the final with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-6(4) victory over third seed Kei Nishikori of Japan in over two hours and 43 minutes.

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