06 Apr 2009

Darya Kustova - March 2009


Darya Kustova

MARCH 2009


Minsk resident, 22-year old Darya Kustova is this months featured player.  Kustova, who played a key part in securing the 2002 Junior Fed Cup for Belarus and is now part of the full Belarus Fed Cup squad, competed in three tournaments on the ITF Pro Circuit.

Kustova started the month with a $25,000 tournament held indoors on carpet in her home city of Minsk.  As a Wildcard entrant into this tournament in Belarus’ capital city, she began with victory in two contrasting sets, winning 60 76(6) against fellow Belarusian Wildcard Sviatlana Pirazhenka.  In the second round, Kustova came close to elimination from the event, trailing by one set to love the second set went to a tiebreak which fortunately went in Kustova’s favour to level the match.  Kustova then went on to secure victory in the deciding set to wrap up a hard fought 57 76(4) 63 win.  Italian second seed Corinna Dentoni was then seen off in straight sets 76(2) 62 as Kustova moved into the semi final and a match against the No. 4 seed, Oxana Lyubtsova from Ukraine.  With both players aiming for a first singles final appearance since 2007 this proved to be a very tight match.  Kustova took the first set on a tiebreak before Lyubtsova levelled the match, winning the second set 63.  In the deciding set, both players pushed each other hard and at 66 this match, and a long awaited place in a singles final for both players, was going to be settled on a tiebreak.  Still neither player could gain an advantage over the other until eventually the tie break was won 8-6 by Kustova.  This tough 76(2) 36 76(6) victory took her into the final where she was to face the British No. 1 seed, Katie O’Brien.  Kustova, with a 100% success rate in singles finals having won all four of her previous finals, soon found herself involved in yet another tiebreak situation, her sixth in this event.  It was, however, O’Brien who claimed the set, winning 76(3).  With the home support behind her, Kustova shrugged off the loss of the opening set and drew on the strength the watching crowd provided and stormed back into this final with the loss of just one game in the second set.  Kustova now had the opportunity to claim a first singles title since her success in Grado, Italy in 2007 with success in the deciding set.  Like the opening set of this final, the third set was closely fought between the two players and in the end it was Kustova who just edged victory 67(3) 61 64, this was also her first singles title not to have been won on clay.

Kustova also took part in the doubles event where she was partnered by fellow Belarusian, 18-year old Ima Bohush.  This was the third time they had teamed up and as the No. 4 seeds they won the title, their second together from three finals.  Their first title together also came in Minsk, back in 2006.

The next two tournaments of the month for Kustova were both held outdoors on clay in the west of Italy with the first, a $10,000 tournament, taking place in Rome-Pomezia.  Named the No. 4 seed, Kustova came through two tough opening rounds to reach the quarter final where she recorded an impressive 61 60 victory.  The semi final saw her win again in straight sets, this time 64 61 over Darina Sedenkova from the Czech Republic who came into the singles main draw via the qualifying event.  Now into her second singles final of the month, she again found herself up against the top seeded player.  The No. 1 seed, Poland’s Anna Korzeniak, was, however, unable to put up much resistance to Kustova’s challenge as she powered to victory 62 62.

Next came a $50,000 tournament in Latina, approximately an hour’s drive from Rome-Pomezia.  Here she first took part in the qualifying event, winning all three rounds in straight sets to book her place in the main draw.  Following a quick 60 62 first round win over a fellow qualifier, Verdiana Verardi from Italy, her participation in this event came to an end with a 61 63 defeat against Ukraine’s Viktoria Kutuzova, the No. 3 seed.  As part of the fourth seeded team with Stefania Chieppa from Italy, she was surprisingly eliminated in the opening round of the doubles event 26 64 [10-8].

Darya Kustova’s career statistics now show that she has won six titles from six finals in singles events on the ITF Pro Circuit.  In doubles, she has competed in an incredible forty-four finals, winning the title on twenty-one occasions.

Nick Fishpool