As the top eight women players gathered in Doha for the Sony Ericsson Championships, Venus Williams and Russian Vera Zvonareva were undoubtedly considered dark horses after being the last ones to qualify. This unlikely twosome reached the finals in dominant fashion with neither woman dropping a match in round robin play. Thus, today, someone would soil her perfect record. Zvonareva drew the short straw as she fell to Williams 7-6, 0-6, 2-6.
Plagued by injuries the last few years, Williams has forfeited the year-end event multiple times. As such, this was Venus’ first final. After an uneventful opening game, Zvonareva got her first break point opportunity when Williams double faulted. The Russian converted when Williams misfired on a forehand 2-0. With penetrating groundstrokes, Williams forced errors from Zvonareva and with a forehand down the line pass had a break point. But, Williams wasted that chance by making a backhand error. Venus earned another break point, but was turned away by a forehand crosscourt winner from Zvonareva. After five deuces, Zvonareva held for a 3-0 advantage. Subsequently, with excellent serving, Venus remained one break behind. The turning point arrived with Zvonareva serving for the set at 5-3. After Vera was ahead 40-0, Venus connected on a crosscourt forehand winner, mirrored it with a backhand, then Zvonareva overcooked a volley leading to deuce. After a marathon rally, Venus dug out a ball to make a superb backhand volley for break point which Williams later converted. The set concluded in a tiebreak. After a backhand down the line winner gave Venus a double mini-break lead at 4-1, she squandered it with two unforced errors. Subsequently, with a double fault, Venus handed Vera a set point. Zvonareva capitalized on it when a net court dropped in for a winner. The Russian appeared poised to claim the biggest title of her career.
After winning a tough opening game, Williams made a crisp volley for a winner in a game where Zvonareva led 40-30 to take a 2-0 advantage. After easily holding serve, an error filled game by Vera extended Venus’ lead to 4-0. Venus faced a break point in the fifth game after committing several unforced errors. But, Williams forced an error from Zvonareva to get out of trouble and widen her lead to 5-0. Hence, Williams broke the Russian again to take the second set a love.
After Venus held serve to open the final set, Vera produced two costly unforced errors to go down double break point. Williams’ forehand stayed solid allowing her to break for 2-0. However, Williams faced break points after backhand misses. When Venus netted a Zvonareva dropshot, the players were back on serve. In the next game, the Russian gambled once again on the dropshot and lost when Williams smashed an overhead lob for another break point. Venus converted for a 3-1 lead. Unable to bottle her frustration, Zvonareva abused her racket and exploded in tears. In the sixth game, Vera picked up the pieces and held serve for the first in the set. As Zvonareva served at 2-5, Williams stepped on the accelerator. When a forehand skidded off the line causing an unforced error from Zvonareva, Williams arrived at championship point. Shortly after, Williams put away a volley to claim the trophy.
World number one and defending champions Cara Black and Liezel Huber crushed Rennae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke 6-1, 7-5 in the doubles finals culminating a year where they won nine other titles including the U.S. Open.