SONY ERICSSON OPEN
Williams Looks To End Title Drought At Sony Ericsson Open
Venus Williams is one win away from ending her nine-year title drought at the Sony Ericsson Open after defeating Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-4 in Thursday’s semi-finals in Miami.
Williams, champion in 1998, ’99 and 2001, is on track to win her third consecutive title this year after victories in Dubai and Acapulco. By avenging her loss to Bartoli when the pair last met in Stanford last summer, Williams extended her winning streak to 15 matches and her 2010 record to 19-1. The last time Williams won 15 consecutive matches was in 2004.
In Saturday’s final Williams will play the winner of the all-Belgian semi-final between Kim Clijsters (against whom she boasts a 6-5 record) and Justine Henin (7-2 record). Williams, 29, is chasing her 44th career title.
In Thursday’s semi-final Williams raced to a 3-0 lead but Bartoli broke back to get the set back on serve at 3-2. At the changeover Bartoli’s coach and father, Walter, came on court to give his advice. But the result was disastrous: Bartoli double faulted four times in the following game to hand the break back to Williams.
In the second set Bartoli was the one to claim an early break to go ahead 3-1, but Williams broke back immediately and later claimed a second and decisive break to go ahead 5-4.
Williams said that she was excited to reach her fourth final at the Sony Ericsson Open. “I always enjoy playing here. I've always had really good results. Usually gone pretty deep. Really pleased to be back in the final. It's just really nice to have all the support. I have so many friends and family here, and they're all super excited to come out and see me. So it's nice."
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Williams said that she was happy with her game – including eight successful forays to the net in the second set – and her tactics against Bartoli. “She was playing consistently, so I expected a lot of defense from her, and also for her to try to take it on the offense when she could. I was happy to combat all of that.”
Bartoli said that Williams’ aggressive returning game was partly responsible for her four double faults in the sixth game of the first set, saying that she pushed for too much. “It was all terrible. The more I was thinking, okay, just put your first serve in, the worse it was getting. I think it's also the part that she's so inside the baseline. I would just put the first serve in, and she would just get over it and kill me on the return of serve. That really put a lot of pressure on [me].
“I think that's also what sets her apart from the other players. Like Serena, when you get her in front of you, it's not like an average player returning your serve. If you're not serving perfectly, she gonna hit a great return and [you will] be on defense.”
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