MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti)
Caroline Wozniacki defeated Sam Stosur in a dramatic final Sunday to claim the title at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow and end a largely disappointing season on a high at the $740,000 Premier event.
The Dane ends the year ten places shy of the world No. 1 ranking she held at the end of last season, but finished strongly with two WTA titles after victory in Seoul last month.
Wozniacki came back from a break down in the decider to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 on her second match point. It followed a second-set slump of the sort that affected her in three-setters against Dominika Cibulkova in the quarterfinal and Sofia Arvidsson in the semifinal.
"I definitely think I'm playing some great tennis out there and I'm very pleased," Wozniacki said. "I got to break her a few times. She made less first serves which, made it more easy for me go to in and attack."
But she insisted that wasn't the crucial factor.
"I think it's very easy to say that you won because someone was making mistakes."
Stosur was harshly critical of her erratic performance, saying that early errors had made it impossible to mount a comeback against such a strong player as Wozniacki.
"I certainly put myself in too much of a hole to be allowed to get out of it," she said, adding that she had no regrets about playing aggressively in the decider.
"I feel like I went for the right things and missed by a couple of inches."
Wozniacki evened her career record against Stosur to 3-3, albeit 2-1 down on hard courts, after their first meeting since 2010 and first ever encounter in a final.
During a match that boasted 13 breaks, Wozniacki showed signs of the imperious style she displayed as No. 1, but problems on serve persisted, while the unforced errors that had dogged Stosur earlier in the tournament continued to trouble the Australian.
Stosur won just one of four service games in the first set, with double faults and wild long forehands costing her the game at 3-2 down and when serving to stay in the set.
Wozniacki was broken at 3-1 down and saved two break points while leading 4-2, but her powerful, accurate forehands gave her the edge overall in the many long rallies on the slow hard surface.
The first six games of the second set all saw breaks of serve as Stosur immediately broke her opponent before being pegged back when errant groundstrokes and serving allowed Wozniacki to even the score, a pattern repeated in the next four games.
After a brief respite when both held serve to love, Stosur broke Wozniacki with ease and held serve to take the set, which she closed out with an ace.
In the decider, both players broke to love once and held serve to leave the match finely poised at 4-4, before Wozniacki errors gifted Stosur three break points, which she spurned as the Dane held.
After both held serve, Stosur was left to serve to stay in the match at 6-5 down, and sent a poor backhand into the net to give Wozniacki match point, which the Australian swiftly rescued with an ace.
Stosur immediately presented the Dane with a second chance to seal the title, and sent a forehand wide as she fought to stay in the match.
Neither player had gone past the second round in their previous appearances in Moscow.
Earlier in the tournament, world No. 10 Marion Bartoli's surprise second-round exit had ensured the ninth ranked Australian would travel to the season-ending tour championships in Istanbul as first alternate.
The men's final later Sunday pits Italian second seed Andreas Seppi against fourth seed Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, before an all-Russian women's doubles final.
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