The last time Maria Kirilenko held a singles winner's trophy above her head was in 2008. In the final of last weekend's Pattaya Open, she overcame Germany's Sabine Lisicki, to lift the sixth title of her career.
It was a tough match for the Russian, facing an opponent with much to prove after stuttering over the course of 2012, Lisicki struggling to maintain her career high ranking of 15 and slipping out of the top 50 by the end of the Australian Open. Kirilenko also was looking to exorcise her own personal demons which had seen her string together four consecutive title-match defeats including the one at last years Pattaya Open.
The opening set was an even affair, before a late break by the German saw her eke out the advantage at the end. However, her booming tennis began to lose its lustre in the second set and less of her shots found the court. Kirilenko was to take all three of her break point opportunities to level the match at one set all before surfing the wave to a 3-0 lead in the decider. Lisicki was to rally back into contention before Kirilenko forged ahead again to 52. However, she was to lose her nerve at the crucial moment to allow the #5 seeded Lisicki back into the match again. Playing out the remaining games, the decider went to a tiebreak, and it was the Russian who exhibited the steelier resolve, dominating the breaker by allowing her opponent just a solitary point before stealing the tournament accolades away from her.
Kirilenko improves her career stats in finals with a 6:6 win:loss record and moves to 13th in the WTA singles rankings. Lisicki, drops to 3:3 in singles finals, but has started her 2013 on a much more positive note than the previous year.
Joining Kirilenko with a tournament win last weekend was another German, Mona Barthel, who topped World #7 Sara Errani in two sets to claim her first Premier title.
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