Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

SA­MAN­THA Sto­sur has prof­ited from a bold change of plan to clinch her sec­ond ti­tle of the sea­son at the Bad Gastein Open clay- court event in Aus­tria.

In a con­fi­dence booster ahead of next month’s US Open, Sto­sur ral­lied from the brink of de­feat to tri­umph 3- 6 7- 6 ( 7- 3) 6- 2 over weary Ital­ian third seed Karin Knapp in Sun­day’s fi­nal.

Knapp had to back up from a sap­ping three- set semi- fi­nal win ear­lier in the day against Ital­ian top seed Sara Er­rani and fal­tered while serv­ing for the cham­pi­onship at 5- 4 in the sec­ond set.

“It wasn’t easy to play five hours to­day but I was re­ally fight­ing,’’ Knapp said.

“I just missed some chances and she used hers.”

Sto­sur sym­pa­thised with her op­po­nent but was happy to take the spoils – her eighth ca­reer ti­tle plus $ 51,750 and a rise from 23rd to 21st in the world rank­ings a month out from the start of the fi­nal grand slam of the year.

“It’s not ideal to be play­ing a semi- fi­nal and fi­nal in one day, a two- and- a- half- hour match in the morn­ing then another two and a half hours in the af­ter­noon,” the Aus­tralian said.

“But, un­for­tu­nately, that’s just what hap­pens with the weather some­times and she did serve for the match, so she wasn’t do­ing too badly ei­ther.”

At one point, Sto­sur trailed 6- 3 4- 2 and down fur­ther break points as Knapp car­ried the mo­men­tum of her big semi- fi­nal win into the ti­tle match.

“It was a very hard match to­day,” Sto­sur said.

“I was get­ting com­pletely out­played in that first set and even though she was up in the sec­ond set, too, I started to feel like I was do­ing a lit­tle bet­ter. Ob­vi­ously, she served for the match but I hung in there, got that set then played bet­ter and bet­ter from there.”

Sto­sur’s vic­tory vin­di­cated her de­ci­sion to re­turn to her pre­ferred clay courts af­ter a first- week loss on the lawns of Wim­ble­don.

Pic­ture: AP

GRU­ELLING MATCH: Aus­tralia's Sa­man­tha Sto­sur re­turns the ball to Italy’s Karin Knapp dur­ing their fi­nals match at the WTA ten­nis tour­na­ment in Bad Gastein, Aus­tria, on Sun­day. Sto­sur came up trumps with a win.

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