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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 28, 2010

Venus rallies to defeat Hercog in Mexican final


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Venus Williams came from a set down to defend her Mexican Open title in Acapulco, while David Ferrer defeated good friend and fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero to end his 14-match winning streak.

Williams beat Polona Hercog, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, last night for her second consecutive title this one on clay to go with Dubai a week ago on hard courts. The win pushed her career total to 43 WTA championships, the most by an active player.

Ferrer lost to Ferrero at the Copa Telmex last week in Buenos Aires, but got a little bit of revenge with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory in Acapulco. Ferrero's winning streak had included ATP titles in his last two tournaments, in Brazil and Argentina.

Williams started slowly and got into trouble with an erratic serve and groundstrokes that were often long. The 19-year-old Slovenian was poised in winning the first set and seldom missed a shot.

"I played such a good opponent," Williams said. "In the first set she did not miss one shot and I had to find a way to get into the match."

As she did last year in winning, Williams donned a huge sombrero known as a "charro," the type worn by Mexico Mariachi musicians and turned to salute the crowd.

She suggested she'll be back next year for at shot at three straight.

"I would love to come next year," she said. "I have to make it three, a hat trick. I think I can do it. It's not an easy tournament to win, as you can see this year."

Ferrero's winning streak stopped just short of his personal record. In 2002, he won 16 straight matches to help propel him to the No. 1 ranking in 2003.

Both players said Ferrero's fatigue played a role, the result of three straight tournaments in three weeks across Latin America.

"I was more aggressive, hitting harder," Ferrer said. "It was the other way around in Buenos Aires."

MORE TENNIS

DUBAI MEN'S FINAL POSTPONED BY RAIN

Defending champion Novak Djokovic led Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5, 2-0, yesterday when rain forced officials to postpone the Dubai Championship final at United Arab Emirates.

The second-seeded Serb was serving at 30-15 in the third game of the second set when a second rain shower caused a 27-minute delay and pushed the final to today.

RUSSIAN WOMEN GAIN MALAYSIAN OPEN FINAL

Top-seeded Elena Dementieva defeated Sybille Bammer of Austria, 6-1, 6-3, to set up an all-Russian final with first-timer Alisa Kleybanova at the inaugural Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.

Fourth-seeded Kleybanova beat unseeded Ayumi Morita of Japan, 6-4, 6-1, in the first semifinal to reach her first career WTA final.

GULBIS, KARLOVIC IN DELRAY BEACH FINAL

Ernests Gulbis of Latvia and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia will play in the final at the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships today in Florida.

The 21-year-old Gulbis reached his first career final with a 6-4, 6-4 semifinal win over Jarkko Nieminen yesterday, while Karlovic beat defending champion Mardy Fish, 6-2, 6-3.

BASEBALL

CHIPPER TO RETIRE IF PERFORMANCE DROPS

Chipper Jones knows some observers scoffed at his talk last year of possible retirement after this season.

Count Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox among those who don't believe Jones will walk away from two years and $28 million on his contract, which runs through 2012.

Jones' frustration and talk of retirement came after seeing his batting average drop 100 points last year. He led the National League with his .364 average in 2008 but fell to .264 last season with 31 fewer hits in almost 50 more at-bats.

He said last year he won't keep playing if he doesn't return to form this season. He's sticking with that stance this spring.

"It was a true statement," Jones said from the Braves camp in Kissimmee, Fla. "If I don't play this game at the level I want to play it at, then I will walk away from it."