Venus Williams to Meet Cinderella Aravane Rezai in Finals

Madrid Open 2010
By Ajay Singh, May 16th, 2010
Aravane Rezai

Aravane Rezai

Venus Williams had too much game and too much power for veteran Israeli Shahar Peer in Saturday’s semifinal. Now that the graceful American has reclaimed the number two world ranking, she may well be ready to push the top player, her younger sister, Serena Williams a bit harder than in recent years.

What Venus showed on Saturday is that she is the best of the rest. Combining her big serve with a full court game and loads of experience, Venus has proved her prowess on hard courts, clay courts and her favorite surface, grass courts.

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It is difficult to say what has caused her upswing but Venus is on track for a record year. Last year, she was upset in several early rounds and over-the-hill, retirement rumors prevailed. However, playing alongside her sister, the twosome was virtually unbeatable in doubles and both sisters seemed to gain confidence from their doubles success.

Williams has won all five of her career singles matches with Peer. She also stands 4-0 against her quarterfinal opponent, Samantha Stosur. Her 6-3, 6-0 drubbing of Peer continued her straight set trend. At 3-3 in the first set, Venus elevated her play and cruised through the next 9 games.

Although not regarded as a top clay court player, the American is now one win away from her tenth career clay title. Venus has a commendable 132-26 record on clay. That is the second-best won-lost record on clay, just behind Justine Henin, who was a surprising first round knockout in Madrid.

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The 5’6” Henin lost to this year’s Cinderella, Aravane Rezai who bounced back after losing the first set. Since then, Rezai has been on a tear. Boosted by the win, Aravane has outgunned her opponents and has not lost a set since the opening round.

After her quarterfinal win over heavily favored Nadia Petrova, who is also known as a big hitter and serves as powerfully as Venus, Petrova said she had never played against anyone who hit the ball so hard so consistently. Aravane kept the pressure on favored Lucie Safarova, hitting many shots that left Lucie gaping and flat-footed.

After dominating the first set, 6-1, Safarova was forced to retire with a thigh injury. After the match, Rezai said, “This is tennis and you never know what’s going to happen. I had my tactics ready and was focused. I was ready to win this match. Of course I wanted to win in a different way and I hope she will be okay.”

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The finals will match an experienced and tall Williams against a short and relatively inexperienced Rezai. Rezai has two career WTA titles and had a 12-11 season won-lost record prior to Madrid. Cinderella has come to play. With each win her confidence has grown and she is serving better and covering the court with power. If Cinderella keeps it up, Sunday should be an intriguing final.


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