Italian Flavia Pennetta has had Venus Williams’ number in their last three encounters. Ousting the majors’ champion in the semifinals in Bangkok, the third round at the French Open and last week in the first round in Moscow. But today, Venus exacted revenge by prevailing in straight sets in the finals at the Tennis.com Zurich Open 7-6, 6-2.
As always for Venus, the key to her success was her serve. Williams opened the match with a few big bombs to hold at love. Not intimidated, Pennetta got through her service game easily thanks to unforced errors from Williams. Another crucial factor was Venus’ success when venturing into the forecourt. After getting an ad point, Williams made a nice forehand swing volley to stay on serve at 3-2. After an untroubled service game, Pennetta got to deuce on Williams’ serve, but with an ace and great defense in an extended rally, Williams forced Pennetta to miss the volley to lead 5-4. With neither player able to break, the first set went to a tiebreak. Williams dominated from the outset. With a deep service return, Venus got the error from Flavia to go up a minibreak 2-0. Then, a Pennetta miscue on a volley and two backhand errors placed Williams in command in the tiebreak.
After going down 15-30 in the second set’s opening game, Flavia regrouped and held serve. After breezing through her service game, Williams used great defense to get the forehand error from Pennetta in an interminable rally giving Venus the first break point of the match. Unflappable in the long rallies, Williams forced her opponent into an error to obtain the break 2-1. After consolidating the break, Williams started to tee off on Pennetta’s second serves. With a double fault, Venus got a second break point which Flavia defended to keep the gap at one break. After this momentary reprieve, Williams baited Pennetta into three unforced errors her next service game, then used her defensive skills to top Pennetta in a blockbuster rally for a 5-2 lead. After scooping up a low volley for a backhand winner, Venus arrived at match point. Following a controversial line call which kept Pennetta alive, Venus refocused to hit a forehand down the line winner for a second match point. Williams then put a period on the proceedings with a solid serve.
For Pennetta, it was a week of firsts. The Italian beat world number one, Jelena Jankovic for the first time and made it to her first tier II tournament final. Williams, who has been struggling since winning her only title this year at Wimbledon, defeated Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals. With this victory, Venus secures her place in Doha at the Sony Ericsson championships. Celebrating its 25th and final year, the Zurich Open is being axed from the restructured WTA calendar in 2009.