Tennis: Pe'er loses to Venus Williams in Memphis final

Israeli world no. 17 beaten by 26-year-old American 6-1, 6-1 in the Morgan Keegan Championships final.

peer laughs 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
peer laughs 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Shahar Pe'er's perfect record in WTA tournament finals came to an end early Sunday morning when she lost to former world No. 1 Venus Williams at the Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis. Pe'er won all three of her finals last year, in Thailand, Prague and Istanbul, but a resurgent Williams (54) was too good for the Israeli, who is ranked No. 17 in the world. Pe'er was easily overpowered by the American's combination of aces and strong forehands and backhands, losing in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1. This event is merely a Tier III tournament and far below William's last victory at Wimbledon in 2005, her fifth Grand Slam. But her 34th career title came in her first tournament since losing in the second round at Luxembourg last October. "I'm so excited," Williams said. Williams had not played Peer before, but she watched her sister beat the 19-year-old Israeli in three sets in the Australian Open quarterfinals last month. The 26-year-old American, who has five Grand Slam titles, has been away from the tour for most of the last eight months with a left wrist injury and was playing in her first tournament since October. "It's been a long week with lots of matches for me and I now feel comfortable on the court," Williams said after her 6-3, 6-2, semifinal victory over Romanian Ioana Raluca Olaru (254). "I'm excited to have a chance to win the title in my first tournament back." "For me, every time I go to a tournament, I feel like I have the opportunity to win it. I'm disappointed if I walk away without the win," said Williams prior to defeating Pe'er. Pe'er reached the final of the $175,000 tournament on Friday after defeating American Meilen Tu (70) 6-4, 7-5, in her toughest match of the championships to date. Pe'er was pushed to the limit by Tu but, despite her opponent's good play, the 19-year-old Israeli held the lead throughout the match and after two hours and three minutes, completed the victory on her first match point. "She was playing great today," Pe'er said. "I knew she was playing well and I knew this would be a tough match. I told her after the match [that] she had some moments when I was just clapping for her winners, which seemed to come from nowhere. "I had to work so hard to win points. On some of the important points, I served well and was even able to make some aces. I just wanted to go out there and win, no matter how." Tu broke Pe'er in the first game in Friday's semifinal, but the Israeli broke back immediately and raced to a 4-2 lead. The American managed to tie the score at 4-4, but Pe'er won two games in a row and wrapped up the first set. After five total breaks of serve in the first set, both players held serve in the first 11 games of the second set. However, Pe'er got the crucial break of serve in what ended up being the final game of the match and booked her spot in the final. "I think the difference was that she's been in this position more frequently than me," Tu said. "She makes you go for more because she's very quick and has good defense. We both gave our hearts out there today, but the better player won and that was her." Henin beats Mauresmo in Dubai final Top-seeded Justine Henin beat Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday to win the Dubai Open for the fourth time. The Belgian player beat the second-seeded Frenchwoman in 1 hour 42 minutes to add to her titles of 2003, 2004 and 2006. It was Mauresmo's second consecutive final, after she won the Diamond Games in Antwerp, Belgium, last week. AP contributed to this report.