December 15, 2018
Teen tennis sensation Valentina Ivanov has caused a major upset by defeating the New Zealand No 1 Paige Hourigan to win the NZ Champs.
Ivanov won a tense final 3-6 6-4 7-5 at the Albany Tennis Centre on Auckland's North Shore on Sunday as she showed great mental strength to keep fighting back.
The first set was one that Hourigan won more comfortably the scoreline suggests, as Hourigan was able to overpower her 17-year-old opponent.
But in the second set Ivanov had worked out how to handle the hard and flat balls from Hourigan and she also played more consistently.
Ivanov was up 3-0 in the third and looked to have the title in the bag, but Ivanov kept fighting and the 21-year-old Hourigan struggled to control her emotions when line calls went against her.
This result will make decisions on where the wildcards go for the ASB Classic more tricky.
By winning the national championships Ivanov is guaranteed at least a wildcard for qualifying.
There had been speculation that Hourigan would get the main draw wildcard as the NZ No 1, if there's one given out to a New Zealand player.
But the dilemma for Classic tournament director Karl Budge is if he gives it to Hourigan, who is ranked 577 in the world, or the unranked junior, but NZ champion, Ivanov.
In the men's singles final Finn Tearney defeated Alex Klintcharov 6-1 6-3 to defend his title.
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