SPORTS

Daniilidou triumphs in ITF Athens Open

Eleni Daniilidou won her first international tournament on Athens soil on Sunday, sweeping Spain’s Laura Pous Tio in straight sets at the final of the ITF Athens Open yesterday. In front of some 2,500 tennis fans at the Olympic Tennis Center at Maroussi, the Hania-born player performed better than her Spanish opponent in the final and won 6-4, 6-1 to win the singles title in the $50,000 tournament. Daniilidou led 2-0 in the first set but Pous Tio won three games in succession, only for the Greek to bounce back and win the set on a break. Her serving was far better in the second set, which she won easily to wrap up the final in 79 minutes. Such was the flood of emotion for the Greek champion at finally winning a tournament in the Greek capital – where the fans have adored her since the 2004 Olympics in Athens – that upon clinching victory she tossed her racket to fans along with some of her wristbands. «I thank God for keeping me healthy, for me being here with you to do my best for you, representing Greece,» she said after collecting the trophy. «Thank you for giving me strength. If I am well next year, I will be with you again,» she promised her audience. This capped an excellent week for Daniilidou, as she also reached the final of the doubles but, in the end, did not partake in the play as her partner, Petra Martic got injured. Therefore, she and Lena had to settle for second place. The title went to Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia and Ipek Senoglu of Turkey. «It was a great misfortune what happened with Petra. It’s a shame as we could have won the title. Yet what is paramount is her health,» said Daniilidou, who last year at the Vogue Athens Open had again reached the singles and the doubles finals but lost them both. «Congratulations to Lena for the unforgettable week she has offered us and to all players for the unique spectacle we enjoyed,» said Alexis Zitridis, the tournament’s general director. «The tennis players from four different continents who took part in this tournament will be the country’s greatest ambassadors,» said the head of the Hellenic Tennis Federation, Spyros Zannias.