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Rediff.com  » Sports » Venus beats Razzano to win 40th title

Venus beats Razzano to win 40th title

February 22, 2009 10:14 IST

Venus Williams won her 40th singles title on Saturday by defeating unseeded Virginie Razzano 6-4, 6-2 to win the Dubai Championships.

It was the 28-year-old American's seventh triumph in her last eight finals, with her last title coming at the WTA Championships in Doha in November.

"I've had a lot of struggles at this event," Williams, who had never advanced beyond the semi-finals in three previous appearances, told reporters.

"It's not been the best tournament for me, so I definitely feel like, yeah, I'm on the victory stand."

The opening set was closely contested, with her serve giving Williams the edge at the beginning although that was eventually dissolved by the quality of Razzano's returns.

Once Razzano was able to return the ball in play, the Frenchwoman rallied on equal terms with her opponent and Williams had to fight off three break points to hold for 3-2.

With Williams leading 4-3, Razzano, who was playing in her first final since she defeated Williams in the Japan Open in 2007, received treatment to her lower back.

Williams then broke in the final game of the set, earning set point with a fine crosscourt backhand winner before Razzano netted a forehand.

With 25-year-old Razzano struggling with her serve in the second set, Williams surged to a 5-0 lead before the Frenchwoman offered some late resistance and Williams uncharacteristically showed signs of nerves.

After failing to convert two match points on Razzano's serve at 5-1, Williams double-faulted twice as she dropped the seventh game but she finally closed out the match on her fourth match point when Razzano netted a forehand.

POLITICAL STORM

With the future of the tournament having been in doubt after Israeli Shahar Peer was refused a visa by the United Arab Emirates, Williams said she would be happy to return next year to defend her title now the issue seemed to have been resolved.

"I feel good about coming back here next year because having tournaments like this is a victory for women's tennis. It's a large event and we're stepping forward and I feel confident that everyone will have the opportunity to play next year," she said.

"And if for some reason that wasn't the case then we would re-evaluate. But I think everyone's had the opportunity to do the right thing."

The UAE defused a political storm on Thursday after being forced to change its policy of barring Israeli athletes from competing in the Gulf state. Like most Arab countries, the UAE has no diplomatic ties with Israel and routinely denies entry to its citizens.

Women's Tennis Association (WTA) chief Larry Scott said he had been assured all Israeli athletes would get "a special permit" from the UAE government to enter the country if they had qualified for a tournament.

Thanks to her good run in Dubai which featured victories over three seeds, including second-ranked Dinara Safina and number five Vera Zvonareva, Razzano is projected to rise from 58th in the world into the top 40.

"This week is the best week of my career," Razzano told reporters. "I think I played well again. I felt a good connection with the crowd. The crowd warmed to me and it was great."

Source:
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