Venus sweeps Azarenka to defend Dubai crown
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Venus Williams successfully defended her Dubai Championships title yesterday, beating Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 6-3, 7-5, in the final.
Williams broke Azarenka a third time at 5-5 in the second set and served out for her 42nd singles title on the WTA Tour.
Unlike last year, Williams didn't lose a set, and in the final she lost her serve only once to the 20-year-old Azarenka, ranked No. 6, one spot behind the 29-year-old Williams.
The American served well, hitting seven aces and winning 80 percent of her first serves.
A break for 4-2 sealed the first set for Williams, who'd beaten Azarenka at the Beijing Olympics before the Belarus star became a top-10 player.
Azarenka, looking for her fourth title in less than 12 months, broke Williams to even the second set at 3-3, but Williams got her back at the end.
"It was definitely very competitive," Williams said. "I expected her to come out and play very well. I respect her game. Just the effort that she gives it. Even though I was leading in the second set, she just never gave up. She played really well and I am obviously happy to close the tournament out."
Azarenka was looking for her fourth title in less than 12 months.
"It was hard," she said. "Venus came off with some big shots. Just, you know, a little bit of bad luck on a few balls. But I'm proud of what I did today."
QUERREY, ISNER REACH FINAL
Maybe the U.S. Davis Cup team isn't in that bad of shape after all.
Sam Querrey and John Isner will meet in the final of the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis, Tenn., just days after they were selected for the United States' Davis Cup tie against Serbia in March.
Isner beat Philipp Petzschner of Germany, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, in yesterday's first semifinal before Querrey defeated Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, 6-3, 6-4.
TSONGA FALLS IN SEMIFINALS
Defending champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost to Julien Benneteau, 7-6 (11), 5-7, 7-6 (3), yesterday at the Open 13 in Marseille, France.
Benneteau will try to win his first title in his fourth career final. He'll play 2009 finalist Michael Llodra of France, who beat Mischa Zverev of Germany, 6-1, 7-6 (3).
TOP-SEEDED DUKLO OUSTED
Angelique Kerber knocked out top-seeded Gisela Dulko, 7-5, 6-3, to reach her first WTA Tour final, where she'll play local hope Mariana Duque Marino in the Copa Colsanitas at Bogota.
Duque Marino, who like Kerber was playing in her first tour semifinals, upset eighth-seeded Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain, 6-4, 7-5.
TOP SEEDS REACH FINAL
Juan Carlos Ferrero powered into his second straight final when he downed former champion Juan Monaco, 6-2, 7-6 (7), at the Copa Telmex yesterday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The second-seeded Ferrero, who won his 13th career title last weekend at Costa do Sauipe, will play top-seeded David Ferrer, who ousted fifth-seed Albert Montanes, 6-1, 6-1.