Defending champion Azra Hadzic watched two balls whistle past her racquet to start yesterday’s Cobram Labour Day women’s open singles final.By Marc McGowan
Defending champion Azra Hadzic watched two balls whistle past her racquet to start yesterday’s Cobram Labour Day women’s open singles final.
Richmond’s Kate Antosik, the No.
Top-seeded Hadzic, ranked 331 in the world, then missed consecutive returns to hand Antosik a love game and went to deuce on her own serve before levelling the set.
That was about as good as it got for Antosik.
The Kooyong Premier League player defended three consecutive break points and then a fourth to take her final lead of the match at 2-1.
But Hadzic had made a statement. The Keysborough teenager was going to put Antosik under pressure at every opportunity and make life as difficult as possible.
Antosik had no answer. The 23-year-old lost the final five games of the opening set and the first two of the second and eventually suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat.
‘‘I’ve played her a couple of times before and had some close matches, but she plays full-time now, so I didn’t expect to have a win today,’’ Antosik said.
‘‘I just didn’t think I could hold up against her at that level and she’s a lot fitter than me and it was a bit hot today and it was a bit easy for her.
‘‘I wasn’t expecting a win, but I had fun out there, anyway. I’ve never been up here before, so it was good to come up with the girls we came up with and I had a good tournament.’’
Hadzic, 18, conceded just six games, including the final, in her three matches at Cobram after a first-round bye.
She only arrived in Cobram at 10
It was Hadzic’s third Futures event in as many weeks where she had made at least the semi-finals.
‘‘I have (played a lot of matches) and I’m actually pretty tired. That night I drove and got here at 10
‘‘I’ll have a shower, drive home and have a week’s rest. I’m physically and mentally drained and it’s time for a break.
‘‘I’m doing really well in the pro circuit events as well and I’m starting to really make my way to the later stages of the week, so I’m really happy where I’m at.’’
Hadzic expected Antosik’s serve to be her greatest stumbling block to victory and knew if she could negate that she would have the edge.
Hadzic’s superior movement and fitness proved too much for Antosik, whose strategy of teeing off, particularly on her forehand, at every chance was never likely to work except on her hottest of days.
But, to be fair, she was fighting an extremely tough battle and had few other options.
The intensity was sapped from the contest by early in the second set. Cobram’s No.
Winners began flowing from both sides.
She broke Antosik for a 4-1 second-set lead with a drive backhand volley and began the next game with a deft drop shot winner after setting it up with consecutive forehand and backhand blasts.
The last game of the match encapsulated the contest. There was an ace, a double fault, a Hadzic winner and two wayward Antosik forehands — the second ending the match.
Hadzic, who said she was a more solid, confident player than a year ago, hoped to return to Cobram next year.
‘‘The event is so social and laidback. There are people drinking beer around the tournament and no-one cares how good you are,’’ she said.
‘‘Everyone’s just looking to have a good time and everyone’s really friendly and the tournament director Brad (Adams) and everyone help you out a lot.
‘‘I’ll definitely make an effort to come down if I can fit it in my schedule, but if I can’t, you know I’m busy, because I really do love this tournament.’’
Hadzic said her immediate goal was to improve her ranking inside the top 300.
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