DUBAI, UAE - Six and a half weeks ago in a far away land, two former World No.1s battled it out for three long sets and for a big, shiny trophy. It was Ana Ivanovic who had the fairytale ending to that chapter - but this time it was a much different Venus Williams, and a much different ending.
Williams, who lost to Ivanovic in the final of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand just before the Australian Open, got some pretty big revenge in the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Wednesday, cruising past her fellow former World No.1 in just 56 minutes, 62 61.
The Williams serve was on. She held all seven of her service games, losing a total of just 11 points in all of them combined, and she went 18 for 18 on first serve points. She also broke five times.
"I'm just trying to play well every day, take one point at a time and learn from my mistakes every match. I'm trying to go out there relaxed with a clear mind," Williams said. "I felt like I was in control most of the points, most of the time either attacking or putting her in a position she wasn't as comfortable in. Both of us are players who really want to be in control of the points, so it felt good to be in control today.
"I definitely learned a lot from the last time we played each other. I definitely think I approached this match differently. I've improved a lot since then and have had to take some tough losses, but I've learned from them, and I've made them constructive. That's what I'm trying to do each time."
At the end of the day Williams continued to show she lifts her game at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, having won here in her last two appearances in 2009 (beating Virginie Razzano in the final) and 2010 (beating Victoria Azarenka in the final). She has now won 12 straight matches here.
Ivanovic was certainly impressed - and has now lost nine of the pair's 11 career meetings.
"She started firing from the first moment on," Ivanovic said. "I definitely think she was a lot more aggressive than when we played in Auckland. She was stepping into the court way more, and coming into the net more. She served well in Auckland, but today she was putting even more pressure on me.
"The ball was just coming very fast. It was very hard for me to adjust and find my timing."
And how does the Williams from today compare to the one who was once on top of the game?
"I think it's very close," Ivanovic said. "We've played many times in the past. This is her game. She was being really aggressive and playing really deep on both wings. I didn't have many opportunities."