The discussed format of round-robin, the two WCs, the generally low interest from players contributed to the poor success of this rather new tournament, that this year just moved to Bulgaria, after a few years in Bali. The very fast surface seemed also to prevent from a great display of tennis for fans of big fights and long rallies, since players were forced to shorten those trying to go more and earlier for winners.
To give a short sums-up of the Round Robin matches, in the first group, where Caroline Wozniacki was the 1st seed, everything went as expected, since the Dane won all her matches and second finished Italian Roberta Vinci, whose only loss was indeed suffered by Wozniacki. Despite her lead, Caroline didn't look as well as she did in Moscow and looked as if she didn't really enjoy the surface, which clearly didn't suit her defensive game. The former world number 1 didn't have problems beating Hsieh and Vinci, but struggled a lot more with the aggressive game of Hantuchova, who eventually lost all her matches, even though she was the only one troubling Wozniacki in the group.
In the second group things got a little messier. Kirilenko, 3rd seed, after her second match decided to pull out of the tournament letting Sofia Arvidsson in. Her withdrawal could make it possible for local WC Pirokova to advance to the second round even if she had won only one match, against Zheng in the opening day. The winner of the group has been seed number two Petrova, who was one of the main favourites for the final win, as her big game was thought to be done for the super fast Hard Court of Sofia. Unexpectedly her way to the semifinals wasn't easy at all and she needed two three-sets' matches to come through the round robin unbeaten.
Nadia didn't let this set her down and kept calm and winner by winner she built her way to the final with the score of 6-7 (8) 6-1 6-4.
In the other semifinal Danish Caroline Wozniacki faced the local favourite Tsvetlana Pironkova in what eventually would be a very easy match for the former world number 1.
Caroline didn't face a single Break Point the whole match, even if she didn't show her best tennis, but Pironkova seemed to lack a weapon to hurt Wozniacki and so she had to surrender the very moment in which Caroline changed her speed: on 4-4 the Danish indeed started to be slightly more aggressive on return and made a 7 games in a row streak before closing 6-4 6-1.
With the final Wozniacki was sure to be jumping ahead of Marion Bartoli and finish the year in the top 10, finally signing a small climb in her shocking downfall in the ranking.
Maybe a little satisfied, maybe a little tired, Caroline seemed to never show up in the final, whereas Petrova looked very focused and even more solid than the whole week passed.
The Danish serve looked pretty off and Petrova didn't let this chance slip from her hands, being very aggressive on the return, breaking early in the first game and never letting Wozniacki coming back, clearing the few break points with very heavy shots. In a blink of a eye the Russian took the first set for 6-2.
|Picture from wta.com|