TennisSunday, February 23, 2014
Venus claims first title since 2012
Thrashes Cronet in Dubai final; Nadal advances to Rio Open final
Venus Williams thrashed Alize Cornet 6-3 6-0 in the final of the Dubai Championship to claim her first singles title since 2012. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal suffered against Pablo Andújar but managed to beat him and advance to the Rio Open final.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Venus Williams won her 45th career WTA title at the Dubai Championships in an impressive 6-3 6-0 victory over Alize Cornet of France in the final yesterday.
The 44th-ranked Williams, playing courtesy of a wild card, also won this title in 2009 and 2010. She’s won her last 15 matches in Dubai.
Williams, who will move up to No. 29 in tomorrow’s updated rankings, last won a title at the 2012 Luxembourg tournament.
“I have had a good week,” she said. “Everything is falling together.”
The former world No. 1, Williams won all five of her matches this week in straight sets.
“Just a lot of match toughness, mental toughness,” said Williams, when asked to explain her remarkable week of play. “When things got tough, I definitely got going this week. If I was down break point, when push came to shove, I was pushing and shoving, I guess,” she added, laughing.
“I think 6-3 6-0 is a bit tough in an hour and 30, so I guess there was a battle on the court, but she was just better than me today (yesterday),” Cornet said. “She was playing more aggressive. She was pushing me out of the court very far from the baseline, and I didn’t play as deep as yesterday (Friday), didn’t serve as well. She deserved to win.”
RIO OPEN. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal had a tough test against fellow Spaniard Pablo Andújar, but managed to advance to the Rio Open final with a 2-6 6-3 7-6 (12-10) victory.
The top-ranked Nadal is coming back from a back injury picked up in the final of the Australian Open, which he lost against Stanislas Wawrinka.
Earlier, Alexandr Dolgopolov picked up a rare victory over David Ferrer to reach the final. The Ukrainian, who had beaten Ferrer only once in seven previous matches, won handily on the outdoor clay 6-4 6-4.
“I always have these type matches with him, and usually at the end he would beat me,” Dolgopolov said. “I knew I’d have to make those shots. If you don’t win the points against him, he takes it away. I’m really happy I didn’t get tight and give away a lot of shots.”
Dolgopolov has won two previous ATP titles, but this will be his first of the season. Ferrer won the ATP Buenos Aires last weekend, his third consecutive title in that clay-court event. He has 21 ATP titles.
In the combined, ATP-WTA event, top-seeded Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic and fifth-seeded Kurumi Nara of Japan will face off in the women’s final.
Zakopalova defeated local hope Teliana Pereira 6-2 6-1 and Nara won over Nastassja Burnett of Italy 6-4 3-6 6-2.
Zakopalova will be aiming for her third WTA singles title. She won two in 2004, and since then has been a losing finalist 11 times.
OPEN 13. Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came through a stern test against 117th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff to win 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 yesterday, setting up an Open 13 final against third-seeded Ernests Gulbis of Latvia after he upset top-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-3 6-2.
Tsonga was pressured by the German player in both sets.
The Frenchman saved five break points in the first set. Struff broke his opponent at the start of the second set, before saving three break points of his own in the next game. But Tsonga’s experience told when he broke Struff twice at the end of the second set to reach his 19th career final, where he will bid for an 11th title.
He leads 3-1 in career head-to-heads against Gulbis, who has won all four of his previous finals.
In beating Gasquet for the first time at his third attempt, Gulbis had 15 aces and proved clinical on Gasquet’s normally strong serve, converting three of his four break-point chances.