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Barthel Upsets Errani; Claims Open GDF Suez Title

Germany's Mona Barthel capped off her most successful week ever by defeating top seed Sara Errani to win the Open GDF Suez title in Paris.

By Erik Gudris

Mona Barthel (February 3rd, 2013) -- Germany's Mona Barthel conquered her nerves and the tournament's top seed to win the biggest title of her career at the Open GDF Suez event in Paris, France.

Barthel, who earlier in the week beat Marion Bartoli, faced off against Italy's Sara Errani in a first time meeting that promised to be an intriguing battle of contrasting playing styles.

While Errani was expected to try and dictate play from the baseline, what wasn't expected was seeing Barthel come to net time and time again. This new addition to the German's game from Barthel's new coach Jacek Szygowski worked like a charm as Barthel secured a break of serve to go up 5-3 in the opening set.

But Barthel played a scratchy, error filled game serving for the set and let Errani back in at 5-4. Errani held for 5-all and though she pushed Barthel in the next game, the Italian couldn't convert on her four break point chances. Barthel turned it around by attacking Errani's serve and soon found herself with the first set 7-5.

A tall, lithe player who can crack winners, and errors, at random intervals throughout a match, Barthel once again found the match literally on her racquet. Though she went up an early break in the second set, Barthel couldn't keep the momentum going. Errani, thanks to sublime scrambling defense when down break point, held serve and then broke for 2-all. But Barthel started hitting winners again and soon enough was up 5-2.

Feeling the moment, Barthel succumbed to more errors when serving for the match at 5-3. Errani broke serve and once again was level with the German at 5-all but her momentum was short lived. Barthel held serve for 6-5 and then soon found herself with two match points on Errani's serve.

Errani fought both of them off to hold for 6-5. A frustrated Barthel, who whacked her racquet in anger, steadied herself just in time to force a tiebreak that became an early tug of war with both women gaining and then losing early mini-break advantages.

Yet Barthel proved that her new confidence up at net wasn't a fluke. The German hit a deft forehand volley winner behind Errani to go up 5-3 and went on to set up two more match points. Errani saved one, but Barthel hit a final forehand winner to close out the 7-5, 7-6(4) victory and with it the biggest title of her career.

The stats tell most of the story as Barthel hit an outstanding 50 winners and 53 unforced errors. But the most compelling numbers were in Barthel's net points won/loss area -- 30 of 48 attempts, proving that her tactic was a sound one.

"It was such tough match…so many ups and down. I'm speechless a little bit," said Barthel afterwards on court who went on to admit the match was nerve wracking for her.

Barthel was later asked if thought she could be top ten this year. The young German said that while so far she's a having a great start to the season, it's soon too tell if that lofty ranking is in her future. With her run to the title in Paris, that included two wins over two top ten players, Barthel definitely proved her name is again one to watch for the rest of the year.

(Photo Credit: AP)


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