Niculescu wins first WTA title, beats Puchkova in Florianopolis final

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In a fitting final for the newly inaugurated Brasil Tennis Cup tournament in Florianopolis, Monica Niculescu of Romania won her very first WTA title on Saturday evening when she battled past another unseeded player, Olga Puchkova of Russia, in three really tough sets. Niculescu nearly went out in her first round match when she found herself match point down against Anabel Medina Garrigues but, after more than three hours on court, she managed to turn the match around and then progress all the way to the final. Her opponent, Puchkova, had taken out Venus Williams in the semis and was also on a roll, so a great final was on the cards – and so it turned out to be.

The Romanian started strongly with her special brand of intricate spins, pace changing shots and excellent net play to confound Puchkova and she took the first set 6-2 and went up 2-0 in the second before the Russian started to get a measure of her game and win six of the next eight games to take the second set 5-4 and force a decider. The third set also went Niculescu’s way, as she led 4-2 before the Russian came back to level at 4-4, but it was a last gasp effort, as the Romanian managed to get a break in the 9th game and serve out for 6-4 to take the title – her first in five attempts.


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