GHZOU (AFP) - Chanelle Scheepers ended an eight year drought for South Africa here on Saturday as she won her maiden WTA title beating Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-2.
The 27-year-old seventh seed - the first South African to win a WTA trophy since Amanda Coetzee in 2003 - had her easiest match of the week in disposing of the eighth seed. Prior to that she had battled through each round with three-set victory including having to fight back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat top seed Maria Kirilenko in the semi-final. Scheepers - who could well improve on her highest ever ranking of 65 in May this year when the new rankings are released on Monday - took just under an hour-and-a-half in beating her under-par opponent, who had won her previous two WTA finals.
"All of my other matches were really tough, but today was the day everything seemed to click," Scheepers said. "I thought I was hitting my ground strokes well today. I was really consistent and tried to move her around. I didn't give her a lot of mistakes. I played well. "I don't remember much about the match point. I was so in the moment. I know it was a long point, but it seemed so long ago. "Every match before the final was difficult. It seemed like I was fighting every match and all of them were hard in their own way."
Scheepers - who had never been beyond the quarter-finals on the WTA circuit - said to emulate Coetzee was really special. "The title means a lot to me because I've worked so hard, to finally win one is really rewarding," she said. "Being the first since Amanda Coetzer is the cherry on the cake."