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Confidence Booster: Venus Defends Dubai Title

dubai_logoVenus Williams has been turned away her last three finals while Victoria Azarenka has prevailed in three consecutive finals.  In the 10th edition of the Dubai Tennis Championships, third seed and defending champion Venus met fourth seed Victoria for the ultimate match.  Williams came out on top 6-3, 7-5 for her 42nd  WTA career title.

Williams had been supreme this week, winning all her matches in straight sets.  In the quarters, Williams defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who had beaten her two times in a row.  From the first game, Williams was impressive with a forehand crosscourt winner for 40-0.  Serving at one all, Venus crushed a backhand down the line pass to hold for 2-1.  After a love game for 3-2, Williams forced Azarenka into two forehand errors for double break point.  Venus was gifted a double fault for 4-2.  However, serving for the set at 5-3, Venus committed two double faults.  Then, with a forehand crosscourt winner by Azarenka, Williams faced break point.  Yet again, Williams rifled some big serves to bail herself out, thereby carrying the set.

Still on the attack, Venus provoked Victoria into a couple of backhand miscues for double break point to open the second set.  Williams captured the break when Azarenka made her third consecutive backhand mistake.  With a couple of forehand winners, Venus easily took the next game.  Serving at 0-2, Azarenka missed a lob and went down 15-30.  Under pressure, Azarenka produced a couple of forehand winners to maintain a single break deficit.  With Williams consistent on the forehand side, Azarenka could make no headway.  But, Victoria’s opportunity finally arrived at 2-3 when Venus muffed a couple of strokes squandering two game points.  Afterwards, Williams double faulted giving Azarenka break point.  Victoria cashed in when Venus’ forehand sailed long.

The next game, despite Azarenka’s first serve letting her down, she held for 4-3.  The following few games, each woman guarded serve without complication.  However, at 5 all, Azarenka found danger.  By Venus chasing down every ball, Azarenka’s backhand coughed up errors leading to double break point.  With a forehand up the line winner, Williams grabbed a 6-5 edge.  After Azarenka saved two match points, Williams had a third with an Azarenka backhand miscue.  With two net courts in the same rally going in Venus’ favor, she sealed the title when Victoria dumped a volley into the net.

Venus congratulated Victoria for an outstanding performance, particularly in the second set.  Besides Justine Henin, Williams is the only woman to defend successfully in Dubai.  When asked if she looked forward to claiming another major this year, Venus replied “absolutely”.  Still, Williams recognized that the lower tier tournaments are the building block for success on the bigger stages.  Therefore,  Williams injected “I am eager to keep adding every title I can”.

Although Serena Williams and Dinara Safina sat out this event due to injury, the results this week accent the absence of a dominant female.  Top seed and world number three, Caroline Wozniacki, was ousted in the third round by world 22nd Shahar Peer.  Later, Peer bested new world number 10, Na Li to advance to the semifinals.  Confined to the outside courts for security reasons, Peer was stopped in the semifinals by Williams.  Second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova fell in the third round to qualifier Regina Kulikova while Elena Dementieva, the fifth seed, retired in the third round with a shoulder injury after dropping the first set.  Jelena Jankovic, the sixth seed, continues to struggle with a straight sets exit in the quarterfinals.

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