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Tour report - Petrova, Monaco and Gasquet conquer in Asia

by Alexandra Willis
Monday 1 October 2012

The weekend brought titles for Nadia Petrova in Tokyo, Juan Monaco in Kuala Lumpur and Richard Gasquet in Bangkok as the Asian swing gathered momentum. 

For more than a brief moment, it looked like Tokyo would restore world No.3 Agnieszka Radwanksa to the array of full-stretch, unfathomable athleticism that she last truly exhibited during her run to the ladies' singles final of The Championships. Beginning the week with a clinical defeat of former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic, Radwanska gathered momentum, taking down Jamie Hampton and the resurgent Caroline Wozniacki, before crushing Angelique Kerber in astonishing fashion to keep her title defence on track. 

But standing in her way was the perenially talented Nadia Petrova, who upset the defending champion in three sets, 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 to win the 12th and arguably most important singles title of her career. 

Marking the first time the experienced Russian had beaten three top 10-ers to win a tournament, as the 30-year-old overcame Sara Errani, Samantha Stosur and then Radwanska to be the one left clutching the giant Japanese trophy. The win was even more impressive in the context of Petrova's lack of match practice, a lingering back injury having forced her to retire in Seoul the week before. 

Producing 16 winners to three unforced errors to blast through the opening set, Petrova was quelled by a Radwanska fightback, before having to gather herself for the decider. 

"I played great in the first set but may have used too much energy, and in the second set I felt flat," Petrova said. "It took me a while to recuperate and get back into the game. After the second set when I went to change my clothes, I had a few minutes to think about what to focus on in the third set."

"After running out of gas in the second set, I don't know where I found the strength and willpower to fight in the third set, but I did and it feels amazing," Petrova said. "This is the biggest tournament I've ever won. It's a great accomplishment. And at the beginning of the tournament I definitely didn't expect to win the title, because of the back injury I've been struggling with.

"I'm so happy to be here right now."

"I'm disappointed - I wanted to win this title so much, and when you're so close and feel you can make it, it's always emotional if you don't," Radwanska said, heading straight to the airport to begin another title defence in Beijing. "But she was playing really well. Her biggest weapon is her serve, for sure, but also her return was very good today, and I had to serve really well myself to hold my serve. But overall I think those two shots were working really well for her."

On the men's tour, Juan Monaco continuned his extraordinary comeback from an ankle injury to claim his fourth title of the year with a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 win over Julien Benneteau in Kuala Lumpur to continue his dash for a place at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. 

"I celebrated with my team in the locker room and tonight I'll have Malaysian food with my team," Monaco said. "It has been nice to be in this city and win the trophy. It feels very good. When I win a title, I think of my family and my team, as they believe in me, they have supported me and we have worked hard to win tournaments.

"I think we played a great match, with a lot of ups and downs. I got a little nervous when I had chances, but I never gave up, particularly in the 12th game of the first set. He surprised me a little bit with his comeback in the second set. In the final set, I knew I had to be more aggressive and I am happy the way I finished the match." 

The other title of the week went the way of Richard Gasquet, who outgunned fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-1 in Bangkok to win his seventh career title, and first since May 2010.

"I played against a French player who is also my friend so of course it a little bit strange but for me it's a title and I've had some tough matches this week so I’m very happy to win," Gasquet said.

"The people here are very nice, the crowd was very nice. The night I played against [Grigor] Dimitrov it was late, but the people stayed and cheered for me so it's more reason for me to come back next year and defend my title."

The Asian swing continues this week with the men in Tokyo, including US Open champion Andy Murray, and the women in Beijing. Keep those body clocks adjusted. 

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