Tennis: Novotna wins case for defence

A larger cheque ( pounds 50,000) went to the shorter Czech. Jana Novotna successfully defended the singles title at the women's international tournament here yesterday, defeating her compatriot, the unseeded Helena Sukova, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Novotna, the No 2 seed, edged a rare contest of serving and volleying, an art which will further diminish when another Czech, the great Martina Navratilova, takes her final bow at the Virginia Slims Championships in New York next month.

Errors were inevitable in a final between players from the same country, who were not only slightly nervous about the prospect but also knew each other's game intimately. Though they had competed against each other on only six occasions previously, Sukova winning four of the matches, they shared 15 titles as doubles partners, two of them won at Wimbledon, before deciding to go their separate ways.

At first, Sukova prospered from her opponent's erratic serving, picking off second deliveries with impressive passing shots, but as the match progressed she began to lose the capacity to take opportunities. 'I had more chances, but Jana took all of hers,' she said; not absolutely accurate, but near enough.

When Novotna faltered serving for the opening set at 5-4, Sukova steadied herself for the tie-break, which she took 7-4. A splended service return immediately created two break points in the first game of the second set, but Sukova missed a return on the second of the chances after Novotna had produced an ace to save the first.

Sukova then found herself two breaks down at 1-5, requiring one of her opponent's famous collapses if she was to salvage the set. There were signs that this might happen, Novotna twice double-faulting when losing her serve in the seventh game and double-faulting again to present Sukova with a break point at 5-3. A netted return put paid to that, Novotna taking the set on her fourth set point.

One break of serve proved decisive in the final set, Novotna winning a volleying duel on the concluding point of the third game. She then saved a break point with a service winner in the next game, failed to take one of three chances for 4-1, and then sighed with relief when Sukova netted a drive with an opportunity to level at 3-3.

After that, it only remained to see if Novotna would complete her task without self-destructing. She lost the first two points of the final game and double-faulted for the eighth time on her first match point. There was no mistake with the second, a confident volley ending the match after two hours and two minutes. Sukova's consolation was pounds 22,500.

It is the first time the 26- year-old Novotna has successfully defended a singles championship, and she acknowledged the absence yet again of Steffi Graf, who had beaten her in the final three years ago.

Graf's year appears to be over. The persistent back injury which flared during the final of the United States Open, which she lost to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario last month, will keep her out of this week's event in Essen, and it seems unlikely that she will be fit for the Virginia Slims Championships. The way the WTA Tour computer rankings work, Graf is guaranteed to end the year as the world No 1 if she does not hit another ball.

The organisers of the Brighton event will continue the search for a sponsor, the only sour note last week being Conchita Martinez's poor performance in losing to Larisa Neiland in the quarter-finals. As far as the WTA Tour is concerned, the matter is closed. There will be no investigation, as neither the match umpire nor the referee suggested that the Wimbledon champion did not give her 'best effort'.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy