Can Francesca Schiavone become the first player to defend a WTA Marrakech title in 2014? Find out all the latest from Africa's only WTA tournament!
WTA Marrakech, otherwise known as the Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem is the only WTA stop in Africa. The International tier event is played on red clay court and has been staged in several different cities in Morocco since it made its debut in 2001. The inaugural event was played in Casablanca, before moving to Rabat in 2005, to Fes in 2007 and finally to it’s current location in Marrakech in 2013.
The tournament has produced a different champion each year in it’s 13 years of existence as all former champions have failed to defend their titles the following year. Reigning champion Francesca Schiavone is expected to return to Marrakech in 2014 as she bids to become the first successive titleholder at Le Royal Tennis Club De Marrakech.
Francesca Schiavone (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Schiavone, of Italy, showed off her legendary clay court ability when she defeated Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino in straight sets 6-1, 6-3 in the final. The former French Open champion did not drop a set en route to victory, which marked her first WTA title of the year; her sixth overall.
However it was no easy feat by any means, as nine out of the total sixteen games were pushed to deuce. Additionally Schiavone had to work her way back from 1-3 down in the second set to ultimately triumph in one hour and 34 minutes.
"This was a great week for me after a long, very difficult period. I think my two toughest matches of the week were my first match against Martic, a very talented young player, and of course today against Lourdes. I played a really complete game today. It's never easy to play her,” Schiavone said.
"To win here is a great start to the clay court season for me and inspires me to keep working hard."
Schiavone also thanked Tournament Director Hicham Arazi during the trophy presentation:
“I want to give many thanks to everyone who helped make this tournament happen. It's the first year in Marrakech, and the first year is always difficult, but the tournament was fantastic and I felt like I was at home. And of course to the Tournament Director, Mr. Arazi, it was an honor for me to be here with him,” she said.
2013 finalist Dominguez Lino is also expected to contest the Marrakech title in 2014 after she was asked if she would return after her finals appearance.
"Of course," she said. "It was my first time in Marrakech and I am really pleased with my result. All credit to Francesca."
Other players expected to compete in the draw include last year’s quarterfinalists Alize Cornet, Kristina Mladenovic and Kiki Bertens. The full players list will be announced within the next few weeks.
The tournament will offer total prize money of $250,000.
The Grand Prix SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem will take place between 21 April - 27 April 2014.
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