Tennis: Arn delighted to change travel plans

Greta Arn of Hungary. Photo / Getty Images
Greta Arn of Hungary. Photo / Getty Images

ASB Classic winner Greta Arn will go into the Australian Open without a previously scheduled detour and she couldn't be happier.

Arn had expected to be in Sydney this weekend as part of her preparations for the year's first Grand Slam event.

Instead, her itinerary was changed to a direct flight to Melbourne after her giantkilling run in Auckland delayed her departure.

"I was supposed to play qualifying in Sydney and I can't," Arn said.

"It's a good problem."

Her fairy tale ride this week culminated in yet another upset yesterday, when she despatched the defending champion, Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, 6-3- 6-3 in the final.

Victory for the world No 23 gave Arn her second WTA Tour title, after Estoril in 2007, when she was a qualifier.

But while she didn't face a seeded player in Portugal, she upset four seeds this time around - Swede Sofia Arviddson (No 8), Russian Maria Sharapova (No 1), Germany's Julia Goerges (No 4) and Wickmayer (No 2).

She said her strategy against Wickmayer - who had had three three-setters over the previous four days, including a 2hr 52min semifinal marathon against China's Shuai Peng - was to move her around the court.

The game plan worked as her opponent made a string of unforced errors.

Arn had a couple of nervous moments serving for the match, and when championship point was finally clinched, she dropped to the court, overcome.

"I feel unbelievable," she said.

"I feel so happy I don't know what to say. My dream has come true."

Having started the tournament as the world No 88, Arn will see her ranking rise to a career-best number above at least 75.

Her achievement comes despite arriving in Auckland without her luggage and having no mentor at courtside.

Her coach, Vittorio Magnelli, husband of former tour professional Sandrine Testud, was back in Rome, having decided that going to New Zealand was too long a journey.

However, the pair remained in constant contact and Magnelli gave her some pre-final advice that, she said with a smile, she wanted to keep secret.

Arn's path to the present point in her career hasn't been a smooth one.

She had to give up full time tennis for three years after getting into debt because of a rogue agent.

After her return to the tour five years ago, she had remained outside the top 100 until her big move last year, when she jumped more than 140 places.

She credited the rise to having the proper support around her.

"I changed my coach, I had the right people," she said.

"Finally at 31, I've found the right people and I love to work to them. I've found the right place, Parioli [in Rome], it's a beautiful club.

"It's a nice feeling that people are taking care of me and it's not easy to find that."

There was no similar upset in the doubles final, with top seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik proving too slick for the New Zealand-Swedish combination of Marina Erakovic and Sofia Arvidsson.

Czech Peschke and Slovenian Srebotnik won 6-3 6-0 against a pairing playing together for the first time.

It was Srebotnik's second doubles title in Auckland. Her first was with Japan's Shinobu Asagoe in 2005, the year she also took out the singles crown.

- NZPA

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