Had the opportunity to catch the finals of the BMW (WTA) Malaysian Open 2015 on 8 March 2015 at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur courtesy of the nice folks over at Kronenbourg 1664 (a portfolio brand under Carlsberg Malaysia).
The singles final featured top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark whom I met in person last year (and you can read about that here – https://timchew.net/2013/02/28/carlsbergs-meet-greet-with-caroline-wozniacki/) and World No 94 Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania. Last year, Wozniacki was knocked out in her first round so there were a lot of spectators who were curious to see how she would fare this year and boy were we in for a treat! However 20 minutes into the game the match was stopped because of rain with the score tied at 1-1.
Well this meant that we could have more food and ice-cold Kronenbourg 1664 lager in the VIP Sky Box while waiting for the rain to stop and the match to resume so not many complained. In fact, a lot of spectators were happily having some ice-cold beers in the Kronenbourg 1664 beer garden while enjoying the cool breeze brought about by the shower.
Once the match resumed after the rain delay, Dulgheru displayed true grit, sheer determination and fighting spirit and powered her way to take the first set 6-4. Although there was a rather large gap in world rankings, Dulgheru was not one to be taken lightly as she disposed of eighth seed Julia Goerges of Germany in the quarterfinals and fourth seed Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia in the semi-final.
In the second set, buoyed by the support from her cheering fans, Wozniacki fought back, hitting hard and using her solid backhand groundstrokes among others to take the second set 6-2. In the third set, Dulgheru seemed to run out of steam and Wozniacki took advantage of the situation, taking a commanding 5-0 lead before Dulgheru tried to stage a late comeback.
However Wozniacki held serve and took the third set 6-1 to win the match and become the 2015 BMW Malaysian Open champion, and burying the ghost of her early exit last year. This win was her first title in 2015 with her last tournament victory stretching back to July 2014 when she won the Istanbul Cup in Turkey.
Wozniacki said in her post-match interview, “It’s great to be back here and it’s great to win the tournament. Dulgheru was a worthy opponent and she played well throughout the match. Even though we played each other last week, today’s final was a totally different game. I kept playing my game and put pressure on her, making her run, and she did the same to me as well. I knew that eventually Dulgheru would get tired and she did. But I have to say well done to her for playing a good match and I wish her the best of luck.”
After the match, Dulgheru commented, “After playing a four hour semi-final yesterday, I was quite exhausted coming into the final. I was happy to be playing Wozniacki in the final, but I was just too tired. My game plan against Wozniacki was to attack her backhand and to move her around the court more, so that I could approach the net and play for every point that I could. But as the match got on, the exhaustion really sapped me. I had a bit of difficulty breathing, and I started getting a bit dizzy, but still I refused to call it quits. Wozniacki realised this and she capitalised on it, and I just could not match her as the match progressed. This tournament has been a great tournament for me, but the long matches and long hours of travelling here were not easy for me either. I like playing in the final and I like playing a top player like Wozniacki. But to play at the highest level it’s important to be fully charged, fit and healthy. I came here to play, and I managed to play well and enjoy my tennis. This has been my biggest achievement this year, so I hope to keep the momentum going and improve my game for more good results.”
Earlier in the doubles final, Ukrainian pair Yuliya Beygelzimer and Olga Savchuk lost out to Chinese pair Liang Chen and Wang Yafan 4-6, 6-3 and 10-4 in the super tie breaker. This was Liang and Wang’s first title together, and Wang commented during the post-match interview, “We are thrilled and very happy to win this doubles title. Our hard work and concentration has paid off and we look forward to playing together as a doubles pair after this.”
More info at http://www.bmwmalaysianopen.com/
Earlier in the week, the WTA hosted the Malaysian WTA Future Stars Clinic on 4 March 2015 during the BMW Malaysia Open. The clinic for 12 children from the Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia was led by WTA Vice-President for Asia-Pacific and WTA Finals Tournament Director, Melissa Pine and supported by 2014 U-16 Future Stars representative for Malaysia, Belinda Chai. Caroline Wozniacki made a surprise visit to the clinic and took part in a couple of games with the kids and was on hand to offer some advice for these young players.
Photos (of the clinic) are courtesy of WTA.
More info at http://www.wtatennis.com/