Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dulgheru sure knows how to make an entrance

Alexsandra Dulgheru had never before played in a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event when she entered the Warsaw Open. She must have liked the experience, because she hung around to the very end, and today, she won the title.

Though it pains me to say it, the unseeded Dulgheru had a bit of luck, in that her opponent in the final--number 8 seed Alona Bondarenko, also the 2007 finalist--is given to fits and starts, and can easily plummet from the sublime to the ridiculous in the course of a match. Reading what spectators said--and seeing the scoreline--I can say with assurance that Bondarenko chose today to have one of her meltdowns.

It's a shame about Bondarenko, but--like Daniela Hantuchova and some other gifted tour players--she has not learned to control her emotions, and she often appears to lack belief. After she played her first round in Charleston, I spoke with her for a bit, and--as I left, I said to her, "Keep it up!" She looked at me knowingly, grinned, said "Yeah" and did a little "you know me" shrug. Sure enough, she lost her next round. In fairness, I should add that she lost to a very in-form Victoriya Kutuzova, but it was still a match Bondarenko should probably have won.

One of my readers informs me that Dulgheru had some more luck in this tournament: She missed her flight to Warsaw and assumed she would not be able to play in the qualifying rounds. Fortunately for her, it rained, and qualifying was postponed for a day.

In her journey to the final, Dulgheru defeated both Sara Errani and Hantuchova. Dulgheru entered the Warsaw Open as number 201 in the world, but on Monday, she will be ranked number 83. She will be 20 years old next Saturday.

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