Iryna Bremond, 26, is our featured player from the month of March. The Frenchwoman spent the month out in the Far East where she was competing in three ITF Pro Circuit tournaments in China.
Bremond came into the month looking to add to her singles and doubles titles won in Mallorca during February and began with a $25,000 tournament in China’s southernmost city of Sanya. The tournament, played in the tropical climate associated with this region of Hainan Province, was staged on outdoor hard courts, a favourite surface of Bremond’s.
In the singles event, Bremond was named as the No. 3 seed whilst she was part of an unseeded team in the doubles event where she was partnered by Croatian player Ani Mijacika for the first time. Bremond had a tough opening match against her compatriot Claire De Gubernatis which saw her lose out in a tie break 7-2 in the first set before going on to clinch a close victory 67(2) 75 63.
This match gave Bremond the chance to notch up plenty of on-court time and adjust to the playing conditions which she was able to put to good use in her second round demolition of qualifier Rika Fujiwara, dropping just three games against her Japanese opponent. A 75 46 61 win in the quarterfinals took her into a semifinal encounter with Korea’s Ye-Ra Lee, a player who, in the second round, caused a surprise upset as she came back from a 60 first set loss to eliminate the No. 1 seeded player.
Apart from the second set, Lee never looked likely to knock Bremond out as Bremond only allowed her Korean opponent two games in the opening set and won six games in a row in the final set to record a 62 36 60 win and move into her second singles final of 2011. In the final she faced Ling Zhang from Hong Kong and seeded eighth.
The final started promisingly for Bremond who took the first set 63 but in a second set tie break she narrowly missed out on securing the title, going down 7-4 to make it 0/2 in singles tie breaks for the week. Zhang, spurred on by this second set win, went on to dominate the deciding set and take the title with a 36 76(4) 62 triumph.
The doubles event ended on a happier note though for Bremond as her first time partnership with Ani Mijacika resulted in them claiming the title.
Following straight sets victories in the rounds leading up to the final, wins which included a close 64 76(5) win over the top seeds in the semifinal, they found themselves having to come from behind following a 63 opening set loss to Rika Fujiwara & Wen-Hsin Hsu. The match was levelled with a 75 second set win which meant the title would be decided in a nail-biting match tie break.
Both sets of players clearly wanted this title as was evident from their displays during the tie break which kept those watching glued to the action throughout. A long and closely contested tie break was finally settled 12-10 in favour of Bremond & Mijacika for their first title success together.
The next two tournaments of Bremond’s visit to China were held in cities within the Yunnan Province, first up was Kunming City and a $25,000 tournament. This tournament saw Bremond again unseeded and partnering someone new for the first time, this week it was Cagla Buyukakcay from Turkey.
In the singles event she was seeded sixth. Bremond seemed to be in for another tough start to a tournament when the first set of her opening round match with Ryoko Fuda of Japan went to a tie break but, unlike in Sanya where tie breaks proved to be her Achilles heel, Bremond dropped just two points to claim the opening set before wrapping up the victory 62 in the second set. The second round also provided Bremond with a tough opening set, this time she took it 75, with a comfortable second set, won 61.
Now into the quarterfinals, she came up against a second Japanese player of the week and wasted little time in securing a 61 60 win which she then followed up with a 62 62 semifinal win over a Chinese qualifier. The No. 3 seed from Kazakhstan, Zarina Diyas, seemed on course to win her first ITF Pro Circuit singles title since 2009 and, in doing so, condemn Bremond to a second consecutive final defeat, having taken the opening set of the final 61 but Bremond hit back immediately to take the next two sets 62 63 and with them the title.
Her adventure in the doubles event with her new partner Cagla Buyukakcay was not to prove as successful as in Sanya with the pair crashing out to the No. 4 seeds in straight sets in round two.
The month ended with Bremond staying in Yunnan Province for a $50,000 tournament in the city of Wenshan. Here, Bremond only competed in the singles event where she was unveiled as the No. 8 seed. Her bid to make it to a hat trick of singles finals this month began with a close three set win over Saisai Zheng, a Chinese qualifier, which set up a return match with Claire De Gubernatis, her opening round opponent in Sanya earlier in the month.
That match was unfortunately ended early in the second set when De Gubernatis retired from the match with Bremond leading 63 20. Next up was a quarterfinal clash with Chen Liang, a Chinese Wild Card entrant who had already seen off the challenge of the No. 1 seed in straight sets in the opening round.
Any thoughts of repeating that feat against the 8th seeded Frenchwoman were soon brought to an end as Bremond comfortably progressed into the next round, winning 60 63.
In the semifinals, Bremond recorded another straight sets victory, this time over Mandy Minella the fourth seed from Luxembourg, to reach a third consecutive final in China this month. The final reunited Bremond with Ani Mijacika, her title winning doubles partner earlier in the month in Sanya, as she provided the opposition across the net.
Mijacika, a Croatian Fed Cup player who had come through the qualifying event, was, like Bremond, playing in her biggest final of her career to date as she looked to upset her one-time doubles partner. Bremond drew first blood in the final, taking a close opening set 75, but Mijacika drew level winning 63 in the second to take the final into a tense deciding set.
The action continued in much the same manner as in the previous two sets and in a repeat of the opening set score line it was Bremond who took the trophy. Her 75 36 75 triumph gave her a career eleventh singles title on the ITF Pro Circuit and was the perfect end to a successful month of tennis for Bremond.
More celebrations were soon to follow as the release of the WTA World Rankings after her triumph in Wenshan revealed that Bremond had been elevated to a new career high singles ranking of 139.