Victory for Venus at year-end championships

Venus Williams ended her 2008 campaign in perfect fashion, capping off a flawless week at Doha, Qatar’s Sony Ericsson Championships with a 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-1 victory over Vera Zvonareva on Sunday. Both Williams and Zvonareva went undefeated in round-robin play and Williams continued her run with a three-set win over Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals. Zvonareva outlasted fellow Russian Elena Dementieva in three sets in her semifinal.

The title match also had three sets written all over it dating back to the end of the first frame of play. Zvonareva stormed out to a 5-2 lead (and even held three set points serving at 5-3, 40-0), but Williams erased the deficit to get back on level terms at 5-5. Known for her mental fragility, Zvonareva somehow managed to overcome that minor meltdown to take the ensuing tiebreaker seven points to five.

She could not, however, recover from an absolutely disastrous second set. Williams ran her opponent ragged en route to a 6-0 drubbing that evened the clash at one set apiece. The American never looked back and eased through the third 6-2. She left her Zvonareva in tears on several occasions throughout the final set.

“I’m so excited,” Williams said. “That was a hard-fought match, every point, right down to the end.”

The two lowest-ranked players heading into the event, Williams and Zvonareva will each climb two places in the rankings. Williams will finish the season at No. 6 and Zvonareva will end up at No. 7 in the world. “I know I can go higher in the rankings,” added Williams, and who’s to say she can’t after her awesome conclusion to the year?

Williams had qualified for the year-end WTA Championships on seven previous occasions, but had never captured the title.

Said Williams: “It was missing, this one.”