Hantuchova beats Tomljanovic to win PTT Thailand Open

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Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova came back from a set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 for her sixth career title at the WTA sanctioned PTT Thailand Open, held at the Dusit Thai Resort in Pattaya last Sunday.

The 31-year-old Hantuchova, who saved two match points in Saturday’s semi-final against Marina Erakovic, took two hours and seven minutes to become the first player to win the tournament three times after also securing the title in 2011 and 2012.

Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova holds up the champion’s trophy after beating Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in the final of the PTT Thailand Open at the Dusit Thani resort in Pattaya, Sunday, Feb. 15. (Photo/PTT Thailand Open)Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova holds up the champion’s trophy after beating Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in the final of the PTT Thailand Open at the Dusit Thani resort in Pattaya, Sunday, Feb. 15. (Photo/PTT Thailand Open)

“Today was very tough because Ajla was playing some great tennis,” Hantuchova said.  “I had to really fight for it – at the end I felt maybe I was a little fresher and sharper, and that decided the match.  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.  And like I said on the court, I’m sure she’ll have many more finals to come.”

Both players held serve in the opening four games until Hantuchova played a forehand wide to drop the fifth.  Tomljanovic went on to take a 5-3 lead and finally took the set in 34 minutes after another errant forehand from Hantuchova that this time found the net.

Doubles champions the Chan sisters (right) pose for a photo with beaten finalists Tamarine Tanasugarn (left) and Shuko Aoyama.Doubles champions the Chan sisters (right) pose for a photo with beaten finalists Tamarine Tanasugarn (left) and Shuko Aoyama.

In the second set, Hantuchova broke the Croatian at the start and again for a 5-2 lead.  Though Hantuchova dropped her serve in the next game, she broke right back to win the set in 42 minutes thanks to a double fault from her rival.

In the deciding set, Hantuchova secured an early break to lead 2-0 but the stubborn Croatian fought back and the set went with serve until 5-4.  Tomljanovic committed her 10th double fault in the final game to bring up match point and then pushed a forehand off court to give Hantuchova victory.

Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic was the surprise of the tournament and looks set to have a bright future in the game. (Photo/PTT Thailand Open)Croatia’s Ajla Tomljanovic was the surprise of the tournament and looks set to have a bright future in the game. (Photo/PTT Thailand Open)

“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,” the former World No.5 said.  “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.”

It was a breakthrough tournament meanwhile for Tomljanovic, regardless of the final result – she had never even been to a WTA semifinal before, let alone a WTA final.

Spectators applaud both players at the end of a pulsating singles final.Spectators applaud both players at the end of a pulsating singles final.

“There are too many positives from the week.  I’m going to try not to dwell on this too much,” said the 21-year old Croat.  “I’ll just try to learn from it.  There are things I can learn from this match and the week.  Overall I think this was a really big step forward for me in Pattaya.”

The concluding match at this year’s championship on Sunday was the doubles final that went to No.1 seeds the Chan sisters – Hao-Ching and Yung-Jan – who beat Shuko Aoyama and Tamarine Tanasugarn, 2-6, 6-4, 10-3.  It was the Chans’ third WTA doubles title together, having won the International title in Shenzhen in 2013 and the Premier title in Eastbourne in 2014.

(Source: AP & WTA)