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Tennis: Hantuchova revives career in Pattaya; Chans triumph

Daniela Hantuchova won her seventh WTA title at the PTT Thailand Open in Pattaya. Photos: AFP.

Daniela Hantuchova won her seventh WTA title at the PTT Thailand Open in Pattaya. Photos: AFP.

February 15, 2015: Daniela Hantuchova came from a set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a gripping final at the PTT Thailand Open on Sunday, as the tall Slovak captured her third title in Pattaya in five years and her seventh WTA career singles title.

 

Chan Yung-jan and younger sister Hao-ching – or Latisha and Angel – then also had to come from behind to win their third WTA title as a pair, beating Thai legend Tamarine Tanasugarn and Shuko Aoyama of Japan 2-6, 6-4, 10-3. The Chans previously won titles in Shenzhen in January 2013 and Eastbourne last June.

 

Hantuchova, 31, was ranked as high as World No. 5 when only 19, but from World No. 33 at the end of 2013 had slid down to World No. 73 before the start of the week in Pattaya.

 

However, she showed that she’s still a force to be reckoned with following a hard-fought victory over 21-year-old Tomljanovic, ranked five places higher as she competed in her first WTA final.

 

Hantuchova, 31, celebrates her third triumph in Pattaya in five years.

Hantuchova, 31, celebrates her third triumph in Pattaya in five years.

A day after the pair spent a combined total of almost six hours to win their semi-final matches, Hantuchova and Tomljanovic had to slug out another epic battle, www.wtatennis.com reported. Tomljanovic, who beat fellow 21-year-old Monica Puig on Saturday, came out stronger, with the Australia-based Croatian taking the first set in 32 minutes and looking in control when leading 6-3, 2-1.

 

But Hantuchova has been no stranger to battling back – she saved two match points to beat Marina Erakovic in the semis – and found a second wind in the final, winning eight of the next nine games to take the second set and run out to a 3-0 lead in the decider.

 

Tomljanovic then rallied herself to 3-3, but from 4-4 Hantuchova made one last push, holding then breaking one last time to win in two hours and seven minutes.

 

“Today was very tough because Ajla was playing some great tennis. I had to really fight for it. At the end I felt maybe I was fresher and sharper, and that decided the match,” Hantuchova said.

 

“But Ajla has a great future ahead of her. She’s also a very nice girl. It’s nice to have somebody like her in the game. Like I said on the court, I’m sure she’ll have many more finals to come.”

 

Chan Yung-jan and younger sister Hao-ching won their third WQTA doubles title together. Photo: WTA.

Chan Yung-jan (left) and younger sister Hao-ching won their third WTA doubles title together. Photo: WTA.

Hantuchova previously won the Pattaya title in 2011 and 2012. “It means so much to me to win this tournament three times. I’ve never done that in my career and never thought I’d be able to,” said Hantuchova, a four-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion.

 

“It’s always a special feeling playing in Pattaya. I’ve felt great here since the first match and I’m very proud I kept it up all week.”

 

Hantuchova is seeking to revive a top-flight career that promised so much when the-then 18-year-old beat Martina Hingis to win her first WTA title at the 2002 Indian Wells Masters. Starting at Wimbledon that year, the 19-year-old reached three straight Grand Slam quarter-finals and a career-high ranking of World No. 5 in January 2003.

 

Hantuchova has since only reached the last eight at a Grand Slam twice – the Australian Open semis in 2008 and the US Open quarters in 2013. However, after six seasons in and around the top 30, she dropped down the rankings last year before finishing 2014 as World No. 64.

 

Source: WTA (www.wtatennis.com/news/article/4490128/title/daniela-hantuchova-queen-of-pattaya); Editing by SportAsia

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