HEAD racket rebels featured in three tournament finals as the summer hard-court season edges closer to this month's US Open start.
Victoria Azarenka (YouTek Extreme Pro) came away with the biggest success as the Belarus belter celebrated turning 21 by claiming the trophy over three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-1 to win the Stanford Classic title in northern California. It was first trophy for Azarenka since hammering favourite Serena Williams in the 2009 final in Miami and let her return to 12th place in the world ranking.
“This is one of the best, definitely,” said the emotional winner. “I’m really excited to compete with so many great players. It’s exciting to go out and show my spirit." The win snapped a long dry spell for Azarenka, who will have a delayed birthday celebration at the San Diego tournament. “I want a cake. I want some ice cream," she said.
On the ATP side, Andy Murray (YouTek Radical MP) and Richard Gasquet (YouTek Extreme Pro) put up tough competitive showings in their finals on American hard-court and European clay respectively. HEAD player Murray came up just short, with the No. 4 vowing to lift his game after missing on a match point against holder Sam Querrey in a 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 winning score line to the American at the Farmers Open in Los Angeles.
"I have to congratulate Sam, he came through a week of three-set matches," said the Scot. "Even if it was his home tournament, I still had my support. This was my first time here and I mainly enjoyed it."
In the alpine resort village of Gstaad, Richard Gasquet played a second final in three months but couldn't get over the line against Spain's Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-1. "It wasn't easy from the beginning of the week. I just started serving on the Friday before the tournament because I had problems with my shoulder," said the Frenchman. "It became worse last night. Also Nicolas was playing well so it was very difficult. I tried to fight and focus well all week and thanks to that I made it to another final here. It's still a good week for me. This is a very beautiful tournament and it's always a pleasure to come here."
Gasquet's goal: "I'll try to be back in form as soon as possible and get ready for the hard-court swing in the US."