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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tennis: Kleybanova wins 1st career title at Malaysian Open


Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Alisa Kleybanova won her first WTA title at the Malaysian Open on Sunday, beating top-seeded Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2 in an all-Russian final.

The 21-year-old Kleybanova dominated the Olympic champion, using her raw power and booming first serve to earn most of her points. Once described as the new Monica Seles due to her aggressive play, Kleybanova served four aces in the first set.

"It has been a tough week with many tough sets and matches. I'm just so happy to finally claim my first title," the fourth-seeded Kleybanova said.

"I've been waiting so long for this moment, training hard and playing in many tournaments. Everything came together in the final and I would like to thank Elena for the good match."

Dementieva, considered by many the world's best player without a Grand Slam title, had cruised into the final without dropping a set. She had lost her serve only twice in four previous matches, but Dementieva was broken twice in the first set on Sunday.

The first occurred in the fourth game and, although Dementieva broke back three games later, Kleybanova broke again to lead 5-3.

Playing in her first career singles final, Kleybanova turned up the heat in the second set to go 4-0 up. She hit balls to all corners of the court and used her speed to chase every return down.

Meanwhile, second-seeded Zheng Jie of China and Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan defeated sisters Anastasia and Arina Rodionova 6-7 (4), 6-2, 10-7 to win the doubles title.

The Chinese-Taiwan duo won their first title in just their second event together, and earned $22,000 for the victory.

Zheng had previously won 12 doubles titles and Chan nine with different partners. It was also some consolation for Zheng, who was knocked out in the second round of the singles draw on Thursday.

Anastasia Rodionova, who is now an Australian citizen, and her younger sister Arina, who is still Russian, crumbled in the second set when Zheng and Chan improved their serving.

In the super tiebreaker, Zheng and Chan raced to a 4-0 lead. The Rodionova sisters, who were also chasing their first doubles title, managed to get back to 9-7 but couldn't not clinch the set.