Unblemished Pole Agnieszka Radwanska is the new ASB Classic champion.
The world No 4 swept aside former champion Yanina Wickmayer 6-4 6-4 to claim the title - and US $37,000 winner's cheque - without dropping a set in the Auckland tournament.
"I'm very, very happy. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the year," Radwanska said. "It's a great way to prepare for the Australian Open.
"I had to fight for every ball. She is a great fighter."
Crowd favourite Wickmayer, in her third Auckland final, saved her best for the closing stages, surviving four match points, but her efforts were largely futile. She was merely delaying the killer blow.
Patience and consistency were the deciding factors in the one-hour 37-minute battle.
Unsurprisingly, the diminutive Radwanska held her nerve in her first tournament in Auckland.
From the moment she took the court this week Radwanska has displayed superb court coverage, intelligence and a strong understanding of her opponent's strengths and weaknesses. All class sums her up.
She has been a cut above the opposition - a clear cut favourite and deserved champion.
Other than a few anxious moments there was never a sense Wickmayer's power-based game would upstage her.
"I'm disappointed but I left my heart and soul on court," Wickmayer said. "I was trying to be as aggressive as I could but it wasn't enough today. I have to congratulate Agnieszka."
Both players held their opening serve but Radwanska took the early advantage with a break in the third game.
Down 2-4, Wickmayer was forced to scrap long and hard to hold serve and then broke at precisely the right moment to level at 4-4.
That momentum shift didn't last long - Radwanska broke back to take the ninth game and went on to claim the set in 46 minutes.
The interval seemed to spark the Belgian. She started the second set with a flurry, taking the first two games, only to blow a strong chance to fightback, faltering on serve.
Facing a two game deficit, Radwanska displayed ice-cool composure to level.
Frustrations began to boil over for Wickmayer.
While she continued to dig in, her temperamental emotions were starting to show.
First, she swatted the ball away with her hand and then threw her racquet after being broken in the crucial seventh game.
A late rally wasn't enough to force a third, deciding set and Wickmayer was forced to settle for the runner's up purse ($19,000) for a second time.
Meanwhile, Cara Black and Anastasia Rodionova came back from a set down to steal a 6-2 2-6 10-5 win in the super tie breaker (instead of third set) against Julia Goerges and Yaroslava Shvedova.
It was Black's 55th career doubles title, just eight months after giving birth.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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