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Petrova Wins at Family Circle Cup

April 17, 2006 09:56 AM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Nadia Petrova battled stifling heat, sore legs and the temptation to retire Sunday to defeat Patty Schnyder 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 and win the Family Circle Cup for her second straight tournament victory.

Petrova, who also won last week at Amelia Island, now has four tour victories, all in the last six months. Her first came last October at Linz, Austria, where she also defeated Schnyder. Petrova won last month at Doha but Sunday was her first top-tier tournament win.

"I really had a difficult time today. Maybe it has to do with all the matches I have played. Energy-wise I wasn't in the best of shape,'' Petrova said after the two-hour match played in 88-degree heat. "At one stage in the match I wasn't really sure if I was able to finish it.''

By making the final at the Family Circle, Petrova will improve two spots to her highest ranking at No. 5 in the world. The Russian's previous high was No. 6 last year.

Schnyder, ranked ninth in the world, was making her 10th straight appearance at the Family Circle Cup. The 27-year-old from Switzerland was also the runner-up four years ago when she lost to Iva Majoli.

Petrova broke Schnyder in the third game of the first set, then broke her at love in the ninth game to win the set. But Schnyder got up a break in the first game of the second set and made it stand.

That's when Petrova thought she might have to retire.

During the 10-minute break between the second and third sets, a trainer massaged Petrova's legs, rubbed her with ice and made her drink.

"There were lots of things that went through my mind at that stage and it was extremely difficult for me,'' she said. "I knew I had a good chance, I just needed to win one more set, and I could have actually retired at any time but I just didn't want to give up.''

In the third, Petrova broke Schnyder in the opening game and while Schnyder never really threatened after that, she didn't concede anything. Trailing 5-1 in the set, she fought off five match points before sending a forehand wide and giving Petrova the victory.

"I didn't want to lose and I just stayed with her and made her win it. We're competitors and we don't want to lose until the end,'' Schnyder said.

"I was never really feeling my game. My serve was not really there. Also she struggled for two or three games but I could not really take advantage of it.''

But Schnyder said the heat didn't really bother her.

"From the start I was like feeling my concentration was not on. I always had to tell myself ... watch the ball and then really focus,'' she said. "That's what takes a lot of energy.''

The generally subdued crowd seemed, as in past years, to be in Schnyder's corner.

"I wish we could play more weeks here and why not the U.S. Open, move it down to Charleston,'' she said. "They make me feel at home and it's just a very few weeks where you really feel that support and I'm proud of it.''

On Saturday, Schnyder handed Justine Henin-Hardenne her first loss at the Family Circle Cup. Before Schnyder's 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory in the semifinals, Henin-Hardenne had won 14 straight matches.

Petrova, who became only the sixth player to win both American clay-court tournaments in the same season, took home $197,000 and a crystal vase. Schnyder won $100,000.




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