Venus Williams turned back the clock with a vintage performance to beat Caroline Wozniacki 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in Saturday’s final of the ASB Classic, displaying her advanced preparation for the upcoming Australian Open.
Wozniacki swept through the first set in 30 minutes on the back of a series of unforced errors by Williams and she seemed headed for her 23rd career title when she broke in the opening game of the second set.
But Williams turned the momentum from the middle of the set, breaking back and then going on the offensive with a more accurate serve and with powerful forehand groundstrokes.
Wozniacki continued to fight, but Williams assumed the upper hand, breaking Wozniacki early in the third set, then clinching the match with a further service break after her opponent had saved two match points.
Williams was playing in her first tournament since September and won a WTA title for the first time since Dubai last February, improving her head-to-head record against Wozniacki to 6-1. She reached the final in Auckland last year, losing in three sets for former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.
“Caroline and I were training next to each other in Florida recently and I saw how hard she works,” Williams said. “She’d do half an hour of fitness work before she even started training and I thought `I should be doing that’…but I didn’t. I knew it would be a tough match.
“She played great and I know she’s going to have an amazing two weeks (at the Australian Open).”
Williams had swept through into the final without dropping a set, beating Jana Cepelova 6-1, 6-0, Kurumi Nara 6-4, 6-1, Elena Vesnina 6-2, 6-4 and compatriot Lauren Davis 6-0, 6-4.
Wozniacki, in comparison, struggled at times to assert her authority over lower-ranked opponents, making unforced errors which left her often having to fight her way back into games.
“I’ve played a lot of tennis here this week and done a lot of running and a lot of returning and that will be good for me in the Australian Open,” Wozniacki said.
In the doubles final, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy, the world’s top-ranked combination, beat Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-1.
SOURCE: The Associated Press