Lifestyle April, 12th 2010 by

Suarez struggles but beats Martinez, advances to final against Pennetta

Carla Suarez Navarro, one of many comeback stories at this year's Andalucia Tennis Experience in Marbella.

Marbella’s premier international sporting event, the Andalucia Tennis Experience, delivered more stunning results on Saturday, with Spaniard Carla Suarez making a superb comeback at the Puente Romano Tennis Club. Suarez fell hard in last year’s final to Jelena Jankovic, but on Saturday she drew closer to the decisive victory she has been fighting for, winning a difficult but exhilarating match against top-seeded compatriot Maria Jose Martinez, the number-one Spanish WTA player.

As a result, Suarez will take to the court in the tournament’s final, facing Italy’s Flavia Pennetta on the other side of the net.

This year’s WTA event in Marbella has seen the fall of some of the greats in international women’s tennis – and the rise of some of the world’s upcoming talent. Azarenka returned home early. World number-one Clijsters fell Thursday to the surprising Beatriz Garcia, and Maria Kirilenko, widely expected to dominate, was eliminated in the first round.

Suarez, a Canary Islander, is now the second Spaniard after Garcia to help strengthen Spain’s position in international tennis in Marbella. On Thursday, Carla, ranked 38 in the world, removed the Italian Brindisi, ranked in the top 20, from the bid for the title and the $37,000 grand prize.

For Carla, it is an unexpected bonus, a surprise, to be in the final. In the Saturday match against Maria Jose Martinez, she found herself on the ropes much of the time. Each player rose and fell numerous times, with a scorecard at the end of 2-6, 6-3, 6 – 2.

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez looked set to win, but collapsed to Suarez's energy in the third round.

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez looked set to win, but collapsed to Suarez's energy in the third round.

In the duel against the the number one Spanish tennis star, Carla faced an uphill climb from the first set. Martinez dominated the first round, while Carla was out of form with an erratic serve. She fell and rose and fell again. Martinez took the first set in 45 minutes by a resounding 6-2.

Things did not improve for the player from Las Palmas as she started the second round. She struggled with her serve once again, and Martinez established the lead. But then, everything changed in the fifth game of the set. The dame of Spanish tennis had control of the ball by 4-1, but Carla persevered until she was able to take control and gain a 3-2 advantage. At the end of the second round, it was apparent to everyone that they were witnessing an even match. Martinez had taken the first round 6-2, but Suarez now held forth 6-3.

Going into the third set, the game was tied, a fact that may have unnerved the dominant Martinez. For her part, Suarez was encouraged, and she maintained a winning streak for the rest of the game. Confronted with Suarez’s mounting energy, Martinez collapsed, handing the game to Suarez, 6-2.

With Suarez now in top form and heading for the final, there is also Pennetta. Unlike the spectacular match-up between Suarez and Martinez, the semifinal between Pennetta and compatriot Sara Errani simply lacked color.

Pennetta had come to Marbella ready for anything, and she showed it even in the first round. She wants to win and now, with Clijsters and Azarenka out of the way, she is the current favorite.

Her opponent on Friday, Errani, attempted the impossible. Flavia allowed Sara no opportunities. She dominated throughout and won a double 6-1, demonstrating why she is perhaps the best performing player of the tournament this week in Marbella.

Flavia Pennetta, current frontrunner in Marbella, faces Suarez in the final match.

While Errani suffered at the hands of Penette, she fared far better in the doubles semifinal, also on Saturday. She and her partner Roberta Vinci soundly eliminated Spaniard Ruano and American partner Shaughnessy in two sets, 6-4 and 7-5.

In the other doubles semifinal, the Russian Kondratieva and Kazakh  Shvedova eliminated the Polish pair of Rosolska and Domachowska, 6-3 and 6-4. 

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