A Star is Born

Madrid Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, May 17th, 2010
Aravane Rezai stunned Venus Williams

Aravane Rezai stunned Venus Williams

In the women’s final at the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, unseeded Aravane Rezai stunned Venus Williams 6-2, 7-5 and showed the tennis world that Cinderella is alive and well. She may not have found her prince, but she pocketed her biggest paycheck in the dream-come-true scenario.

In claiming her third and biggest Sony Ericsson WTA tour title, Aravane brought a determined, aggressive strategy to the court. The 30-year American seemed surprised by the 5’ 5” mighty mite’s powerful groundstrokes and explosive serve. Aravane played with a fresh enthusiasm that was exhilarating to watch and the fans of Madrid responded in kind.

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The French player of Iranian descent will surely have the fans of Paris in the same frenzy as she prepares for the French Open one week from today. Rezai will be marked as a dangerous foe by the competition.

Rezai began the tourney with a three set win over Justine Henin, which probably sounded an alarm in the ladies lockerroom. Along the way to the finals she mowed down Jalena Jankovic and Nadia Petrova.

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The Frenchwoman seemed more prepared for Venus than Venus was for Rezai. The winner had defeated Williams once before but this was a big stage and few gave her a chance against the Williams height, length and pace.

In denying Venus her 10th clay court title, Aravane took just 28 minutes to sweep through the first set. Williams made a strong run in the second set and led 2-5 before Rezai managed a difficult hold. She then stunned the Williams camp with a gutsy break.

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At 4-5, Aravane saved six set points before finally piecing together two winners to pull even at 5-5. Williams appeared dismayed by Rezai’s tenacity. As she did against all her opponents, the stylishly dressed underdog continually hit the ball behind Venus with pace, often leaving the veteran flatfooted and uncertain. And, she did it with some of the most powerful shots seen in Madrid.

At 5-5, Aravane blistered one shot after another to break at love. The underdog then ran out her serve to claim the title. On the Champion’s podium, Rezai was overwhelmed but gracious and extremely complimentary of her opponent.

If she plays this way at Roland Garros, what a celebration there will be!


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