Our top-ranked singles player, Chani Scheepers hit paydirt in China on Saturday as she won her first WTA title, the Wanlima Guanzhou International Women’s Open title.
In doing so she became the first South African women’s player to win a┬á WTA singles title since Amanda Coetzer back in 2003.
Scheepers, who has featured in the Road to London 2012 magazine previously, will now take great confidence out of this win going forward.
Women’s Tour website www.wtatennis.com tells the story of Scheepers’ maiden win.
She was the marathon woman during the week, going to three sets in every match en route to the final; but once it came to crunch time she took it to a whole new level. Scheepers beat Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets to take the crown.
Scheepers, the No.7 seed, recorded three set victories┬áagainst Anastasija Sevastova, Hsieh Su-Wei, Urzula Radwankska and No.1 seed Maria Kirilenko to reach her first WTA final. The last few weren’t routine three-setters either ÔÇô she was down a match point against Hsieh, two points from losing against Radwanska and down 4-1 in the third set against an in-form Kirilenko.
“I don’t remember much about the match point. I was so in the moment. I know it was a long point, but it seemed so long ago,” the 27-year-old Scheepers said. “I was fighting every match ÔÇô┬áall of them were difficult in their own way.”
Passing those tests may have energized her ÔÇô her groundstrokes in full flight against No.8 seed Rybarikova, she cracked open the final with a love break for 3-2 and never looked back, cruising to a 6-2 6-2┬áwin in┬áan hour and 29 minutes.
“All of my other matches were┬átough, but today was the day it all clicked,” Scheepers said. “I thought I was hitting my groundstrokes well. I was really consistent and tried to move her around. I didn’t give her a lot of mistakes.”
Scheepers is the first South African to win a WTA title since Coetzer won in Acapulco in 2003 ÔÇô the year Scheepers played her first WTA main draw. “The title means a lot to me because I’ve worked so hard, to finally win one is really rewarding. Being the first since Amanda is the cherry on the cake.”
While Scheepers had never been beyond the quarterfinals of a WTA tournament before this week, Rybarikova was playing in her third WTA final, having won her first two at Birmingham in 2009 and at Memphis┬áthis year. The 22-year-old Slovak┬ábeat No.2 seed and defending champion Jarmila Jajdosova this week.