It was not meant to be that we get two first-time WTA titlists this weekend – Dominika Cibulkova did it, Monica Niculescu did not, and instead world No.3 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus comfortably won her eighth career title and third this year, after Miami and Marbella.
The top-seeded Azarenka had a straightforward 6-2 6-2 victory over Niculescu in final of the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, but she had strategy prepared for the Romanian:
Monica has a unique game, a really different style. You really have to dig deep and be patient against her, but you also have to be aggressive. If you stand there and just dig the balls back, she can beat you. So I just tried to stay aggressive and fight for every point and I'm happy how it turned out.
Despite losing her first ever final, the 34th-ranked Niculescu can be more than satisfied, as the Luxembourg title match came after her first Premier-level semifinal in the beginning of October in Beijing where she defeated a local favorite, Top 10 player Li Na. This is the best month in her career and she is excited about next year, having analysed her improvement on videotaped matches.
To go all the way to the trophy and the prize of $37,000 Azarenka defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2 6-4 in the first round, Alberta Brianti 6-0 6-1 in the second round, Iveta Benesova 6-3 6-2 in the quarterfinals, sixth seed Julia Goerges 6-3 6-3 in the semis, and eventually Niculescu. As you can see, Azarenka never lost a set all week, and she didn't lose more than six games in a match.
Azarenka will now head to Istanbul, at the most prestigious stage for women's tennis. The other seven players are already in Turkey, all dressed up.
Additional info: Together with Venus Williams, Azarenka will play the Tennis Pon de Rock exhibition in Barbados on December 10-11. (photo: sr_cranks)