For Maria Kirilenko reaching her first final of 2010 was a wonderful accomplishment. Moreover, doing so in her hometown was particularly gratifying. Thus, with a partisan crowd firmly behind her, it was the ideal setting for Kirilenko to terminate a two year title drought. Unfortunately, Kirilenko’s opponent and doubles partner Victoria Azarenka did not cooperate. Azarenka, the second seed, bested Kirilenko 6-3,6-4 to take the Kremlin Cup title, the fifth of her career.
With Kirilenko dumping a backhand into the net, Azarenka broke to start out the match. However, Kirilenko wiped away game point and by provoking a few errors from her rival manufactured a couple of break points. Kirilenko capitalized when Azarenka double faulted. Later though at 2 all, as Kirilenko’s forehand up the line sailed long, Azarenka had triple break point. Azarenka converted when Kirilenko’s backhand directed down the line found the net instead. Then, with a forehand up the line winner on game point, Azarenka consolidated for 4-2. Down the road, with a love game, Azarenka extended her lead to 5-3. Next, with a forehand up the line winner, Azarenka got to double set point. By connecting with a backhand down the line winner, Azarenka took the first set.
In the second set, after squandering a game point, Azarenka erred on the backhand side to hand her opponent a break point. When Azarenka’s forehand bounced long, Kirilenko bagged the break. Following a tough hold to consolidate, Kirilenko on her third break chance struck a winner to stretch her advantage by a double break. Next, with a quick game, Kirilenko sprinted to 4-0. Consequently, a third set appeared a surety. After steadying herself with a love hold, Azarenka obtained double break point when Kirilenko pushed another backhand into the net. With Kirilenko committing another miscue, Azarenka narrowed the deficit to 2-4. Still, Kirilenko kept the pressure and courtesy of a backhand mistake by Azarenka arrived at triple break point. Yet, Azarenka responded to the challenged and leveled the game at deuce. Then, with two tremendous volleys, Azarenka closed the gap to 3-4. Once more, by forcing errors from Kirilenko, Azarenka was at triple break point. The Belarusian grabbed the opening and squared the set at 4 all. However, Azarenka duplicated her previous service game and found herself in a love-40 hole. Just as before, aided by good serves and mistakes by Kirilenko, Azarenka climbed out of that predicament and guarded serve for a 5-4 edge. Perhaps a little dejected by a 3 for 12 mark on break point, Kirilenko made three consecutive backhand errors to help Azarenka get to triple championship point. Although Kirilenko managed to survive the first two, Azarenka thumped a forehand volley winner on the third match point to ultimately seal the victory.
In the second round, Azarenka needed three sets to get by Andrea Petkovic. With that win after Serena Williams withdrew, Azarenka secured the eight and final spot at the season ending championships in Doha. With Jelena Jankovic, the top seed, falling to qualifier Zarina Diyas in the second round, Kirilenko crushed the latter, Anna Chakvetadze and Vera Dushevina to advance to the final. Because of those results, Kirilenko will rejoin the top 20; her prior career best ranking was 18 in July 2008. By finishing the year with a strong performance, for Kirilenko 2011 will look a lot brighter.