Venus runs rings around Pe'er

Israeli teen loses her first tour final to former world No. 1.

sport 88 (photo credit: )
sport 88
(photo credit: )
The Williams sisters' dominance over Shahar Pe'er continued on Saturday when older sibling Venus crushed the 19-year-old Israeli 6-1, 6-1, in the final of the Morgan Keegan Championships in Memphis. Despite the loss, Pe'er will climb to No. 16 in the world when the new rankings are published on Monday and will gain plenty of confidence from what was on the whole a successful week at the $175,000 Tier III event. Pe'er was hoping to get the better of a Williams sister for the first time in her career on Sunday, but ended up only extending her losing streak to the Americans to three matches. The Israeli suffered a heartbreaking defeat to younger sister Serena in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in January and also lost to her in the 2005 Miami tournament. "It was a very, very good week except for the final," Pe'er said. "The rest of the rounds were good, but this is the first time I have lost in a final, so it's not the nicest feeling. Venus is very experienced and she was focused from the first game today. Against players like her, I can't afford to start slowly." Pe'er, who had a perfect record in WTA finals prior to Sunday, having won Pattaya City, Prague and Istanbul last year, will remain in North America and spend the next 10 days in Palm Springs training with coach Jose Higueres. She will return to the tour at the Tier I event in Indian Wells, California, that begins on March 7 and will continue to Miami for another Tier I tournament that kicks off on March 19. The 26-year-old Williams (54), who missed most of the last eight months with a left wrist injury, claimed the first break of serve in the second game of the final and cruised for the remainder of the contest. Williams never faced a break point throughout the match and only lost a total of nine points on her serve. Pe'er got on the board in the fourth game of the first set when she held her serve after saving two break points, but the American took the subsequent three games to win the first set with ease. Pe'er held her serve for the second time in the match in the first game of the second set, but that proved to be no more than a blip in an almost perfect day for the former world No. 1, who reeled off the next six games to claim her 34th career title. "I felt confident. I like a challenge. It was a wonderful match as she is a great player," said Williams, who prior to the Memphis tournament hadn't played professional tennis since October. "I had to make the most of the opportunities she gave me. I was clear about what I needed to do and how to execute. It's about errors for me. "Today, I didn't make too many errors. When my opponents benefit from my largesse, it gets harder for me. A lot of the errors in my early matches came from a lack of footwork. Today, I knew I had to do more and that paid off huge." Pe'er admitted to shedding some tears after Sunday's defeat, but acknowledged nevertheless that the better player won the final. "I didn't start out well and she just began gaining confidence," the Israeli said. "I didn't see her play like this the whole week. She just made so many winners and I made a lot of unforced errors. I wasn't playing well and she was and that's why I lost so easily." Unseeded Youzhny tops Ljubicic Unseeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia easily beat third-seeded Ivan Ljubicic 6-2, 6-4 to win the ABN Amro title in Rotterdam. Youzhny broke his Croatian opponent twice in the first set, and then again in the fifth game of the second set. The Russian, appearing in his fifth ATP final, beat Ljubicic for the first time in six tries. It was Youzhny's third career title. The eighth-ranked Ljubicic, who turns 28 next month, was appearing in his third final of the season after winning at Doha, Qatar, and losing to Marcos Baghdatis at Zagreb, Croatia.