Venus wins in Zurich

The women were grossly overshadowed by the men last week; that’s simply what happens when there is a Masters Series event on the men’s side. And that’s especially what happens when a shocking semifinal Saturday features Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer tumble out in succession, both after blowing one-set leads. Gilles Simon stunned Nadal to win a fourth match in a third-set tiebreaker while Andy Murray avenged his U.S. Open final loss to Federer.

There were no such dramatics on the women’s side, but that does not diminish the outstanding week in Zurich, Switzerland enjoyed by Venus Williams.

Williams came out on top Sunday in an event that boasted an outstanding field for a draw size of just 28 players. Serbs Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic were the top two seeds, but they went down to the two eventual finalists, Flavia Pennetta and Williams, respectively.

Jankovic lost her opening match to Pennetta after receiving a first-round bye. The No. 1 seed even won the first set but could not keep it up, losing 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. Ivanovic, mired in a dismal slump ever since winning the French Open, made it to the semifinals before bowing out. She, too, could not maintain a one-set advantage, falling to Williams 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

That eventually set up Sunday’s Pennetta-Williams clash. The Italian was bidding to become the third player ever to defeat Williams on four straight occasions (following Lindsay Davenport and Venus’ sister, Serena) and she entered the final with a 3-1 lead in the head-to-head series against her more accomplished opponent.

Williams, however, was not about to let Pennetta get the best of her once again. The first set was tight, but Williams proved to be too tough at the crucial moments as she dominated the tiebreaker seven points to one. The third-seeded American then broke serve for a 2-1 lead in the second before some history took place. Serving at 2-1, Williams consolidated the break by smashing four aces in-a-row. As if she needed to do something more than that, Williams fired one of those aces at a reported record of 130 miles per hour.

Pennetta could not recover. She held serve once more the rest of the way as Williams dominated the second set 6-2 to win the title. The victory guarantees Williams one of the eight spots in the year-end Sony Ericsson Championships.