Svetlana Kuznetsova boosted her world ranking to #5 in the world by claiming the Wismilak International amongst a very strong field in Bali. The Russian #2 was faultless throughout her 4 matches not losing a single set even against strong opponents, Lindsay Davenport and Marion Bartoli of France. Although a meagre $35 000 US was available for the eventual champion a hoard of 6 top 25 players competed in the illustrious surrounds of Bali this season, making for one of the strongest fields ever.
Kuznetsova won the Wismilak International in Indonesia
Kuznetsova the 2004 US Open champion, posted her 7th career title in stylish fashion , continuing her resurgent year on tour, after falling out of the top 10 in the 2005 season. Her title romp began by thrashing Japan’s Erika Takao 6-2 6-1, however the 18 year old Japanese can be well pleased with a 2nd round result, vaulting her 18 places in the world rankings to 152nd. The Quarter Final proved to be very similar for Kuznetsova albeit against French 8th seed Severine Bremond , finishing 6-3 6-2, Kuznetsova was easily the superior. The Semi Final would prove to be a much sterner test for the Russian champ competing against American superstar Lindsay Davenport and it took two epic tiebreakers to book a berth in the final for the battle-hardened Russian. Bartoli awaited in the Final, but could not overcome the feisty Russian star; eventually after a gruelling 1st set Bartoli rolled over and Kuznetsova cantered to the title winning 7-5 6-2.
Bartoli had a fine run and can be well pleased with her week, just 21 in only her 2nd WTA final, she began what proved to be a long and fruitful stay in the top 20 of the world. Dealt an Indonesian Qualifier in Round 1, Bartoli walloped her 6-1 6-0, and went on to deal with Australian Casey Dellacqua similarly in Round 2 winning 6-1 6-3 to sound warnings to the other high seeds in Bali. In the biggest surpise of the week #4 seed Ana Ivanovic could not take notice of Bartoli’s warnings, due to her 1st round upset loss against Russian Olga Poutchkova. Poutchkova battled past Ivanovic in 3 sets winning 6-3 4-6 6-2, and carried on her good form beating Slovenian Qualifier Andreja Klepac, and thus booking a maiden Quarter Final berth against Bartoli. Bartoli however was untroubled by the Russian Poutchkova, clinically defeating her 6-4 6-2. The Semi Final as was oddly designed by the draw pitted Bartoli against- a regular to visit Bali- Patty Schnyder. Rankings would suggest the Swiss Schnyder to be favourite, but the Bartoli bandwagon rolled on, in two competitive sets 6-4 6-4, which left Bartoli and Kuznetsova to compete in the decider for the Bali crown of 2006.
23 year old Hungarian Melinda Czink had a very good week, starting with her 1st round disposal of Slovakia’s WTA stalwart Daniela Hantuchova. The reward for beating a seeded player was a Round 2 meeting with Indonesian Wild Card Angelique Widjaja, who she managed to defeat 7-6 6-1 and advance to a rare Quarter Final against Schnyder. All in all, though, the 2006 Wismilak Championships belongs to Svetlana Kuznestova who was impeccable, continuing a fine season and adding to her growing tally of WTA titles, in the stunning location of Bali.