Photo: Tadeja MajericTadeja Majeric (SLO)
Our final female featured player of the year is 22-year-old Slovenian Tadeja Majeric.
Majeric, who has represented her nation in Fed Cup play, was competing over the festive period in Pune, India where she was entered into both the singles and doubles events.
The young third seed opened her account on the hard courts on Christmas Day itself and as many who celebrate at this time of the year were looking forward to a serving of turkey, Majeric was able to put the spirit of Christmas firmly to one-side as she served up a double-bagel to her Chinese opponent Jia-Xiang Lu.
Christmas Day also saw her take to the courts in the doubles event with her Swiss partner Conny Perrin who was also celebrating her 22nd birthday. The pair, seeded No. 1, took on Karen Shlomo and Kyra Shroff of Israel and India respectively in a close match which finished 64 75 and saw Majeric add to her earlier singles win.
As the tournament progressed in the singles event Majeric defeated a qualifier from Chinese Taipei in the second round to set up a quarterfinal with eighth seed, Jia-Jing Lu, the twin sister of Jia Xiang Lu whom Majeric had beaten 60 60 in round one.
Lu appeared to be on her way to avenging her twin sister’s defeat when taking the first set 63 but Majeric hit back to win the second set 64 before giving Lu a taste of what her sister had experienced with a 60 deciding set win.
A 64 62 semifinal win then carried Majeric into her second singles final of the year where she was to face a tough test in the unseeded Turkish player Basak Eraydin.
Ahead of that Saturday singles final though was Friday’s doubles final which saw Majeric and Perrin in action. Following their tough straight sets opening round victory the pair fought their way to the final with quarterfinal and semifinal matches that went the distance and required match-tiebreaks to decide the winner.
Scores of 10-2 and 11-9 in the third set of the quarterfinal and semifinal respectively took the pair into their first final together, there they were to face the fourth seeded Lu sisters, Jia Xiang and Jia-Jing, both of whom had been eliminated from the singles event at the hands of Majeric earlier in the week.
The 23-year old twin sisters from China, winners of a career seven ITF Pro Circuit doubles titles together, took the opening set of the final 63 meaning Majeric and Perrin were going to have to go the distance yet again if they were to pull off the win.
Twelve games were then split as a second set 75 win brought the final level at one-all and in the deciding set the match-tiebreak ended 10-6 in favour of Majeric and Perrin.
This doubles title, their first together, consigned the Chinese pair to their third successive final defeat from their last three tournaments played and a fifth of 2012. For Majeric it was her first ITF Pro Circuit title since a doubles triumph in July 2011 and a career third doubles title from ten finals.
With the doubles title now secured, Majeric’s confidence levels would have risen as she went into her singles final against Turkey’s Eraydin.
Despite being unseeded, the 18-year old Turkish player represented a real threat to the third seed as she was jointly leading the way at the top of the 2012 ITF Pro Circuit singles titles table with seven titles. In contrast, Majeric hadn’t tasted singles glory since a win on grass in January 2011 and not on a hard court since May 2009.
In the final it was Majeric who got off to a great start, conceding just two games in the first set. Eraydin put up more of a fight during the second set but a 64 win saw Majeric end her long singles title drought and in doing so becoming a double champion for the first time.
For Eraydin, defeat ended her hopes of ending 2012 as the clear leader at the top of the singles titles leaderboard. A win would have seen her become only the second player since former WTA world number four and 2011 Roland Garros singles champion Na Li in 2000 to have reached the eight title triumphs mark.