Venus beats Serena to stay perfect in Doha

Venus Williams defeated little sister Serena 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 on Thursday night in the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha, Qatar. The victory ensures Venus, a perfect 3-0 in pool play, the No. 1 seed out of the maroon group heading into the semifinals. Venus beat Dinara Safina in straight sets and Elena Dementieva in three earlier in the tournament.

The Williams sisters, who won Olympic gold in doubles this summer, waged a spirited battle throughout the first set. Serena secured the decisive break of serve at 6-5 to take the opening frame of play. From then on, however, it was all Venus. She dominated play from all over the court as Serena’s game-especially mentally-fell apart.

Serena’s loss leaves her at 1-1 in group play; she took out Safina in two sets earlier in the week. A win over Dementieva on Friday will be necessary in order for Serena to secure the No. 2 seed behind Venus out of the maroon group.

In the white group, meanwhile, Vera Zvonareva and Jelena Jankovic have already secured semifinal berths. They are both 2-0, whereas Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic are both winless at 0-2. Kuznetsova has not won a set in two matches, although she was extremely competitive in a 7-6(6), 6-4 setback at the hands of Jankovic on Thursday afternoon. Ivanovic seemed to have emerged from a brutal slump with a recent title, but that proved not to be the case this week. The Serb, so far, has lost to countrywoman Jankovic in straight sets and Zvonareva in three.

Friday’s showdown between Jankovic and Zvonareva will only determine seeding. The winner will be No. 1 out of the white group and will play either Serena or Dementieva. The loser will be No. 2 and faced with a daunting clash with in-form Venus.