Williams Wins Seoul Title
Published September 30, 2007 12:00
SEOUL, Korea - She blazed through her first four matches with few to no problems, and once she got into the final she snapped the nine-match winning streak of Maria Kirilenko in a three set nail-biter. Former world No.1 Venus Williams captivated the crowds all week long in Seoul, and on Sunday afternoon earned her third title of the season.
The battle was tight with the exception of a few select patches, namely the No.1-seeded Williams capturing three straight games from 3-3 in the first set and No.4 seed Kirilenko winning six straight to earn the second set. But it was Williams whose best gear kicked in when it mattered most, breaking one last time in the seventh game of the third set and eventually serving out a hard-fought 63 16 64 championship victory.
"Sometimes in the match I was a little disappointed with the errors I was making, and it made it a lot tougher for me," Williams said. "But at the end, I guess in the last few games, I started to play much better."
"In the second set I won two important games in the beginning, and she got a little bit down and started to miss," Kirilenko said. "In the third set we both kept holding serve but then she broke me, and I think maybe it was bad luck for me."
The two-hour, 21-minute duel was so evenly matched that the two women were separated by just two points, with Williams winning 100 and Kirilenko 98.
"I thought she played fantastic," said Williams on Kirilenko. "I've never seen her play that well, and so aggressive, and not so many errors. I think that was really, really good on her part. She was just playing so well that the only choice I had was to try to play better than her."
After Sunday's final, Williams and Kirilenko donned customized traditional Korean dresses for the trophy presentation.
"Oh wow, the dress was so exciting," Williams continued. "They told us that they expected us to wear the dress, but I mean you're so focused on the match that afterwards, it was a great surprise. It was fantastic."
Neither Williams nor Kirilenko had dropped a set en route to the final - Williams lost just 17 games in four matches while Kirilenko lost 22. Arguably the biggest test for either player prior to the final was Kirilenko's 75 60 win against No.5 seed and defending champion Eleni Daniilidou in the semifinals, where she let go of five set points at 5-3 in the opening set before running away with it from 5-5.
Williams earned her third title of the season, having already won at Memphis and Wimbledon. The American now owns 36 career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles titles, tying her for 11th place all-time with Belgium's Justine Henin.
"I love winning titles," the American declared. "I'm excited about adding this title to my name, and it's very, very exciting every time."
When asked whether she planned on coming back next year, Williams seemed to have already made the decision.
"I'd definitely love to return. I've had a great time here and I really hope that I have the opportunity to come more often, because everyone is really sweet, and everyone is so genuine, and the people are really interested in tennis. It makes me feel good. I love the appreciation from the fans. I'd love to come back."
Kirilenko was playing her fourth final and is now 2-2 in those, having won Beijing two years ago and Kolkata just last week, and finished runner-up at Hyderabad in 2004. This was the first time the Russian played two finals in the same season.
For the second straight week, Chuang Chia-Jung and Hsieh Su-Wei earned title glory in doubles. The top-seeded pair downed No.2 seeds Daniilidou and Jasmin Woehr handily, 62 62, for their second straight title, having won in Beijing just last week. It is Chuang's fifth Tour doubles title of the year and the sixth of her career; it is Hsieh's second, the Taiwanese winning her first last week in Beijing.