Marino Crowned Champion At Saguenay National Bank Challenger

Saguenay, QC – Sunday September 26, 2010 – Rebecca Marino (Vancouver, BC) won the biggest title of her blossoming career on Sunday at the $50,000 Saguenay National Bank Challenger.

The top-seeded Canadian put forth an impressive performance against second-seeded American Alison Riske, ranked no. 157 in the world, in a hotly disputed and highly entertaining singles final between the tournament’s top two seeds at the Saguenay Indoor Tennis Club, coming away with a 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(5) victory to capture her first title of the season and second of her career.

Marino, who was playing in her second final of 2010, was almost invincible on serve in the opening set and made the most of a break in the tenth game to take the early lead. The 19-year-old seemed well on her way to a straight sets win in the second set as she held three match points on Riske’s serve at 15-40, but just as the American had done all week, she played her best in the big moments and hit three winners with her back against the wall to ultimately comeback to win the tiebreak.

Riske started the final set just as she had finished the second and secured herself a 3-1 advantage with a break. This time it was Marino’s turn to turn the tables as she quickly broke back and much to the delight of the partisan crowd, the home favourite sent the match into a decisive third set tiebreak. The two players went back and forth in the tiebreak until Marino delivered the final blow and converted on her first match point at 6-5 with Riske serving.

“I’m so happy to have come out the winner today because the match definitely could have gone either way,” Marino said. “We both brought our best game to the court today and I’m glad we were able to give the fans a good show. I love coming here (to Saguenay) it is a great tournament
and I am honoured to be the event’s champion.”

Riske, 20, announced her arrival on the professional tennis scene earlier this year when she reached the semifinals as a qualifier at the WTA Tour grass court Wimbledon tune up event in Birmingham. Sunday’s triumph was Marino’s third over her opponent in as many tries. She is the first Canadian to capture the Saguenay crown in the event’s five year history.

It was also announced during the trophy presentation that the Saguenay National Bank Challenger will be back for a sixth edition in 2011. For all of the latest news and results from the National Bank Circuit, please visit www.circuitbanquenationale.com.

Wozniacki Has Bright Future Ahead

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s not easy losing the US Open after a tremendous run, but Caroline Wozniacki has nothing to be embarrassed about.

“There was nothing I could do anymore,” she said. “I lost the last point and I lost the match. She just played better than me. I really did my best. I tried my hardest, and I had a great two weeks. I think it’s just about enjoying the moment, enjoy and enjoy that you were in the finals and just be happy about that.

“Because, I mean, if I started saying, Oh, I should have won, I should have done this and that, I think that would be kind of a sin. I’ve really done great, and I think I should be proud what I’ve achieved.”

Wozniacki didn’t lose the match because she wasn’t talented enough to stay with champion Kim Clijsters – losing 5-7, 3-6 – but the 19 year-old lacked experience. You can see it in the first set as the veteran Belgian lost four games in a row, but then started to make adjustments to Wozniacki’s game.

And although, Wozniacki was two points away from the set, Clijsters would not let her Danish counterpart close her out.

That’s the mark of a champion.

“The first couple of games I wanted to get into the match,” Wozniacki said. “I wanted to just know what I’m up against, and I fast found out that I’m up against a really strong player that doesn’t give away any free points.

“I really had to fight for it. I mean, she played really well. She played aggressive. I mean, yeah, she’s playing really well.”

Clijsters used her experience to move up on Wozniacki as the match went on. Playing on the baseline for most of the first set, she learned that she could come in and volley the ball against her opponent.

The first set was also a return game with six breaks and neither player establishing their serve, but Clijsters was able to do that in the second, which made Wozniacki easy pickings.

“Actually, I feel like I’ve been serving really well the whole tournament, and also today I had parts where I was serving well,” Wozniacki said. “I think, I need some more experience. And, I mean, of course, when I came to the net I was doing the right thing. Sometimes I just missed, and that’s tennis. You can’t hit everything straight.

“But of course all the volleys I wished I could have, you know, finished them up.”

That will come in time. Wozniacki established herself as a force on the tour this year with seven finals under her belt. Although for the first week and a half of the tournament the story was Melanie Oudin, this 19 year-old was the real story and one that has a very bright future ahead.

“Obviously I don’t like losing,” she said. I’m a competitor and I love winning. But I think I’ve had some great weeks here. I mean, I was in the finals of a Grand Slam. I’m only 19 years old, like you were saying.

“I mean, my ranking will go up again, and I’m just happy the way I’m playing and the way I’ve been progressing so far. I feel like, yeah, I’m playing good tennis.”

And that’s all that matters.

Oudin’s Not Going Away

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Don’t worry about Melanie Oudin. Her Open may be over, after her straight sets, 2-6, 2-6, loss to Caroline Wozniacki, but her career is just beginning.

We saw a star being born in Flushing Meadows. A determined girl, who knows she has a lot to learn in her career and her sport before she can be a champion.

“I’ve never been to the quarters of a Grand Slam,” she said. “I’ve never been this far, so for me, I have to learn how to handle the grueling two weeks in a Grand Slam. And mentally, physically, I mean, my body has had a lot of matches and a lot of time on the court. Mentally, it takes a lot to fight through those matches three sets three times in a row.

“So for me, I think I’m going to need to learn how to handle that, and I need to improve. I think I need to get quicker and even stronger and I definitely can improve a lot of things in my game.”

First she’s playing in Quebec City next week in the Bell Challenge then maybe some time off. Although Oudin says her life is the same, it’s not. Her life has changed, as she’s become a national sensation. But yet, there’s still the wholesome attitude, which wowed the New York crowd as it came out so natural.

Even today, Oudin seemed overwhelmed as was almost in tears as she was peppered with questions. With time she will overcome that and with time she will take her top spot in the rankings.

“She’s only 17 years old,” said a very gracious and happy Wozniacki. “She has been playing some great tennis. I think that, you know, she had a lot of attention here, and I think the way she handled all the attention, I think she did very well. I think she has a great team around her, and I’m sure that she’ll win many, many more matches in the future, as well.”

Wozniacki came in with a game plan. Unlike the Russians Oudin took down, the Danish princess played a defense match and forced Oudin to make mistakes. Instead of taking the 17 year-old for granted, the 19 year-old forced the Georgian to make the shots, which at times came up short.

With time, though, Oudin will learn how to face an opponent like Wozniacki. She will force an opponent to play her game her game, instead of relying upon guts and guile.

“I think it’s going to be experience and working hard,” Oudin said. “I’m going to have to go back home and just keep training like I do. I’m sure that, you know, if I keep working hard, hopefully I can do this again.”

Our gut says she will, but remember next time, Oudin will be in the spotlight. After this year’s Open only a foolish opponent will take her for granted and in her next tournaments, she will be the featured match and in the spotlight.

Yet, this girl can handle it. With a good family base behind her, Oudin will stay as normal as she possibly can be. Right now, that’s pretty regular.

“I’m basically a normal 17 year-old kid,” she said. “I still go to movies and go to the mall. Like to shop. Here we’ve saw a couple of plays. I just like going back and watching TV. I have a Wii at my house. I love playing that.

“Just different things, like board games and cards with my grandma. I mean, I just love doing all of that stuff, so basically I’m just a normal kid.”

Even though, she will find out that some things will change, Oudin seems ready for the challenge. She is out of the shadows and now the girl everyone is gunning to get. Yet, as we have seen in these last two weeks, this “normal girl” from Marietta, GA can handle anything that’s tossed at her.