Resurgent Venus far from finished

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Venus Williams is not looking to get back to her previous Grand Slam winning form but to reach a whole new level altogether, the American declared after defeating Alize Cornet last night to capture her biggest title in four years.

Williams gave a clinical performance to calmly dispatch the Frenchwoman 6-3, 6-0 and lift her third trophy in Dubai and first title in 16 months.

The 33-year-old American has taken her winning streak in Dubai to 15, having won the title in 2009 and 2010 and missing the tournament between 2011 and 2013.

She has become the Dubai tournament’s first ever unseeded champion and is the first wildcard to clinch the women’s title at the Aviation Club.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion hadn’t won a Premier level title since Dubai in 2010. She has been battling an auto-immune disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome but appears to be on her way back to her former level.

“I’m not looking to do anything I did in the past, because I already did that,” said Williams.

“I’m looking to improve and be a better, smarter Venus. I think obviously this week is a step. Every week for me is a step.”

Cornet, who took out the younger Williams sister, Serena, in the semi-finals the night before, was bidding to win her fourth career title and first since Strasbourg last season, but Venus proved too strong for the 24-year-old to handle.

Williams gave credit to Cornet, who despite the humbling scoreline, was fighting throughout the 91-minute encounter, and said Serena’s defeat to the Frenchwoman the day before had got her curious about facing Cornet.

“I think Serena and I have so much respect for each other that when someone else beats one of us, we think ‘wow, what did they do?’” said Venus.

“So when I came on the court today, I thought ‘wow’. I was trying to get a feel for what exactly did she do to beat Serena? Obviously I was able to see on the court today. She’s just playing so consistently and hustling and making the plays.”

Venus’ next tournament will be in Miami next month and she’s hoping she can carry the momentum from this week into the rest of the season.

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Venus Williams crushes Alize Cornet to claim third Dubai title

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On the comeback trail: Venus Williams proved she is back in form by winning the title in Dubai.

Venus Williams captured her third trophy in Dubai and first title in 16 months by calmly dispatching Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-0 at the Aviation Club on Saturday.

The 33-year-old American has taken her winning streak in Dubai to 15, having won the title in 2009 and 2010 and having missed the events in between.

Cornet, who took out the younger Williams sister, Serena, in the semi-finals the night before, was bidding to win her fourth career title and first since Strasbourg last season, but Venus proved too strong for the 24-year-old to handle.

It was Cornet who drew first blood, getting her hands on a break point in the third game on a double fault from Venus. The American saved it with a thunderous 187km/hr service winner but a couple of forehand errors from Williams, gave Cornet another break point and the break for a 2-1 lead.

But Venus broke back immediately, first creating a chance with a brilliant down the line backhand passing shot before benefitting from a netted backhand error from Cornet to level.

It was the start of a four-game run for Venus, who forced Cornet to save two set points before the Frenchwoman held for 3-5.

Venus took the set the following game though, hitting another monster down the line backhand which left Cornet scrambling. Venus raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, breaking twice despite an incredible Rafael Nadal-like curling forehand passing shot from Cornet to save one of the break points.

The seven-time major champion had to save two break points in the fourth game, but held on and broke again for a 5-0 lead. Venus had to fight off two break points when serving for the title, but sealed the championship on her second match point when Cornet sent a forehand wide.

It was Venus’ 647th career victory, the most won by any of the active WTA players, and it was her first Premier title since winning Dubai in 2010.

Venus said she didn’t know the secret behind her continued success in Dubai. “I don’t know, I need to play here every year,” joked Venus on court after her win.

“If I can figure out why I play well here I can make it happen in other tournaments. I tried to put it all together, right until the last game. Alize never gives up so I had to give it my all.”

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Federer and Djokovic drawn to clash in Dubai semi-finals

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Old rivals: Federer and Djokovic could meet in the semi-final in Dubai.

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer were drawn to clash in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships when the draw was made on Saturday.

The pair have claimed the title an incredible nine times in the last 11 years, with Federer lifting the trophy for three consecutive years between 2003 and 2005, and Djokovic doing the same between 2009 and 2011.

In the past two years they have shared the title, with Federer beating Andy Murray in 2012 and Djokovic overcoming Tomas Berdych in 2013.

“We have two of the greatest men who have ever played the game once again competing here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free.

“Their semi-final will be one to savour, but the field here is so strong that neither are guaranteed their place in the final four.

"Djokovic could well meet Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round, a player who produced one of the biggest upsets at the recent Australian Open when he beat our number two seed, Juan Martin del Potro, and Federer could meet the wily Radek Stepanek, who has played a pivotal role in the Czech Republic winning the Davis Cup for the past two years.”

Second seed Del Potro opens his bid for the title against popular wild card Somdev Devvarman, and he could meet 2013 runner-up and recent Rotterdam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Berdych in the semi-finals.

Berdych faces a qualifier in the first round. Fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes on Victor Hanescu and then could face veteran Nikolay Davydenko in the second round, sixth seed and two-time former finalist Mikhail Youzhny plays Michal Przysiezny, and seventh seed Philipp Kohlschreiber and eighth seed Dmitry Tursunov both play a qualifier.

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships takes place between 24th February and 1st March.

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