Behroozian and Janahi can take heart despite Dubai defeats

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It was a difficult day for both Emirati players in the qualifying draw yesterday, with Omar Behroozian and Hamad Janahi losing in the first round, but the pair can find some solace in Alize Cornet’s fine performance in the women’s tournament.

Both Behroozian and Janahi have acted as hitting partners for Cornet throughout the past week, and with the former being right-handed and the latter being a lefty, the French-woman has been getting the best of both worlds en route to the women's final.

Janahi lost 6-2, 6-1 to Dutch exworld No40 Thiemo de Bakker early yesterday, while Behroozian had a rough time against Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov, losing 6-0, 6-1 to the former world No68.

“I started well and stayed on serve until two-all but then I messed up with one double fault and got broken,” Janahi told Sport360°.

“He serves huge, so it was really difficult trying to break him back.”

The 23-year-old Emirati said he’s been enjoying hitting with Cornet during the week and was thrilled to see her make the final.

“Alize has been great and she’s enjoyed having both a lefty and a righty to hit with her,” said Janahi.

“She’s been on fire and she’s such a nice girl, always smiling and positive.”

Other qualifying action saw Sergei Bubka Jr lose to Jesse Huta Galung 6-4, 6-0. The Ukrainian, son of pole-vaulting legend Sergei Bubka, is playing his third tournament back after suffering a freak accident, falling from the third floor of a building in Paris in November 2012.

Bubka Jr may have lost his qualifying match, but he’s grateful to be back on the court.

“I’m really thankful to the tournament organisers for giving me the wildcard into the qualifying draw,” said the 27-year-old.

“Unfortunately this time didn’t go as well as I hoped, but it’s difficult to expect something great right now. It’s only my third tournament back. Just to be competing again feels great.”

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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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