Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2018

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Kulikova overcomes injury to capture Las Vegas Open championship

Singles runner-up takes doubles crown

Beyond the Sun

A high pain threshold was about as valuable as a powerful forehand in the singles championship at the Lexus of Las Vegas Open Sunday morning.

Aniko Kapros's shin splints and third-seeded Regina Kulikova's strained back kept both players limping, grimacing and frustrated throughout the match at Red Rock Country Club.

Ultimately, it was Kulikova who won the battle of attrition 6-2, 6-2, to capture the Las Vegas Open title and a champion's check of $7,315.

"I'm really happy," Kulikova said. "I was playing well. Unfortunately I had some problems with my back. It was tough, but I was trying to do my best. I kept fighting."

In her first trip to Las Vegas, the 20-year-old Kazakhstan native never dropped a set all tournament while knocking off Henderson resident Asia Muhammad in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Shenay Perry in the semifinals.

Kulikova entered the tournament ranked No. 159 in the world and hopes Sunday's title can help vault her back into the top 100.

"I really liked it here," Kulikova said. "It was a really great week for me. I've never been to Las Vegas and my stay was great. The tournament is very organized and very nice people. I've been injured a lot, but I want to get back to the top 100."

Kulikova started strong Sunday, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set.

But then her back tightened and she dropped the next two games before closing out the set 6-2.

Kulikova then left the court for a medical timeout during the break. Kapros also needed the trainer's attention between sets.

While both players were visibly hobbled in the second set, Kapros' inability to move swiftly allowed Kulikova to pull out the second set and match.

"She's a great player and I think you have to be 100 percent to beat her and I couldn't quite bring that today," said Kapros, who earned $4,200 for the second place finish. "She put pressure on the balls very well. It was hard for me to run today and she used that to her advantage."

Following that singles defeat, Kapros somehow mustered up the energy to win the doubles title with partner Agustina Lepore.

Kapros and Lepore overcome a 4-1 second set deficit to drop Kimberly Clouts and Lindsay Lee-Waters 6-2, 7-5 to earn an additional $1,400 each for the victory.

"It's been a lot of tennis and I'm hurt, but a pretty good week for sure," Kapros said.

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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