$75,000 Shrewsbury - Mona Barthel
Having broken into the WTA top 100 during August, Mona Barthel continued her rise up the ranks with two title winning performances this month.
The 21-year old German player’s first tournament of the month took place in Mestre, in northern Italy. Here, as the number one seed for the singles event, she was competing on a clay court surface in a $50,000 ITF Pro Circuit tournament.
Her first round opponent was Italian Federica Quercia, a Wild Card entrant. Barthel dominated throughout and only conceded three games as she quickly pulled off a 61 62 win. She met with slightly more resistance in the second round, seeing off a Czech Republic qualifier 63 62.
That win took her into the quarterfinal and a showdown with another Italian, the sixth seeded Anna Floris. This was the first meeting between the pair on the ITF Pro Circuit since 2010 when they each recorded victories over the other.
The pair met more recently in clay court action on the WTA Tour in Marbella which saw Barthel win in straight sets, starting with a close first set before playing out a one-sided second set. This latest meeting was to follow a similar pattern.
A Tie break was required to separate the two players in the first set, won 7-2 by Barthel, before the German player cruised to a victory losing only one game in the second set. Up next, for a place in the final, was Czech Republic third seed Sandra Zahlavova.
A close 63 75 score line saw, for the fourth match running, Barthel record another straight sets victory, taking her into a fourth final of 2011. In this final in Mestre Barthel faced an unseeded Spanish player, Garbine Muguruza Blanco.
Barthel took the first set of the final 75 but could not afford to lower her concentration levels as her Spanish opponent had already disposed of the number two seed earlier in the competition having come from a set down.
There was, however, to be no such comeback this time for the Spaniard as Barthel, eager not to become another seeded casualty of her opponent, dropped just two games in the second set. Barthel’s 75 62 victory was her second ITF Pro Circuit singles title of 2011 having previously tasted success way back in January.
Looking to follow up her Italian triumph, Barthel moved onto England for a $75,000 hard court tournament in Shrewsbury, a Shropshire County town in the West Midlands region.
Once more Barthel was the top seeded player. Her opening two rounds saw her comfortably see off unseeded opposition in straight sets to set up a quarterfinal with Britain’s Anne Keothavong.
The British player, fifth seed here, was competing in her first tournament since suffering a first round loss at the US Open and, like Barthel, had won her opening two rounds in straight sets.
A tough match was anticipated but failed to deliver as Barthel eased her way to a 61 64 win. This win was followed by another as her winning streak this month continued in the semifinal over Russian Ekaterina Bychkova.
Barthel’s month was therefore to end with another crack at a singles title this month. Standing in her way of winning back-to-back titles for the first time in her pro career was another highly rated Brit, Heather Watson.
Watson, a Wild Card entrant and sixth seed, was back competing on the ITF Pro Circuit for the first time since a May first round defeat in Nottingham, England. In a shock opening to the final, Barthel raced through the opening set 60 and looked well on course to bring this final to a swift end.
The British teenager put up more of a challenge in the second set but was unable to take the set and force a decider as Barthel wrapped up a 60 63 win for her fifth career singles title from nine final appearances and a first at this high a prize level event.
This successful month, in which Barthel posted a 20-0 set win-loss count saw her continue to climb the WTA ranking ladder and ended on a new career high of 77!