Wozniacki stands firm to beat Venus and claim WTA Finals title

Reuters
Wozniacki, the 27-year-old former world No. 1, entered the contest having lost to the evergreen Williams seven times in as many matches.
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AFP

Caroline Wozniacki reacts after beating Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the singles final of the WTA Finals in Singapore on October 29, 2017.

Caroline Wozniacki claimed the biggest title of her career after the Dane staved off a ferocious Venus Williams fightback to take a 6-4, 6-4 triumph in the WTA Finals title showdown at a captivated Singapore Indoor Stadium on Sunday.

The 27-year-old former world No. 1 entered the contest having lost to the evergreen Williams seven times in as many matches but the resilient Dane served and retrieved brilliantly and emerged with a deserved victory after 89 minutes.

Wozniacki was faultless for an hour as she raced to a one-set and 5-0 lead but Williams always plays to win and the 37-year-old American reeled off four games in a row before the Dane could finally lift the title at the elite, eight-woman event in her fifth appearance.

"It was all going well at 5-0 in the second set, then she went for her shots and I was just so happy to get it done in the end," Wozniacki, who will rise three places to third in the world rankings after the win, said in a courtside interview.

"Well eight is my lucky number and I figured if I was ever going to beat her it would be today... and I just went out there and did my best."

The first three games were dominated by the server until the Dane started to find the corners with her powerful backhand and fashioned the first break of the match with back-to-back winners off both flanks.

Williams was trying to get to the net at every opportunity and came forward to good effect after dropping her serve. A vicious cross-court backhand enabled the American to break back immediately on her way to leveling the score at 3-3.

She continued to be the aggressor but the Dane held on in the face of some brutal hitting from her opponent and somehow forged her second break of the set with some exquisite deep hitting to move within one game of taking the opener.

The American came roaring back once more, leaving the Dane looking on as a helpless spectator, with a barrage of winners to get the high-class contest back on serve.

After working so hard to stay in touch, Williams would have been deeply frustrated to gift her opponent the set when the Dane did not have to work to seize the third break in a row, the wayward American sending forehands wide, long and into the net.

Wozniacki had seized the momentum with her variation, depth of shot and complete lack of errors preventing Williams from grabbing any sort of foothold in the contest and the flying Dane raced into a 5-0 lead in 11 second-set minutes.

Needing to hold serve just to stay in the contest, Williams found her rhythm to belatedly get on the scoreboard in the second set and then secured her first break of the second with some solid play against an increasingly anxious Wozniacki.

Williams suddenly appeared relaxed and free, holding easily to heap more pressure on the Dane before stretching every muscle and sinew in an impressive ninth game to break once more and get it back to 5-4.

The crowd wanted more but Wozniacki was not prepared to give them what they wanted, breaking again and sealing victory on her second match point with a backhand winner down the line, and tossing her racquet in the air as she celebrated a stunning triumph.

Wozniacki's victory is her second of the season in eight finals after she successfully defended her Pan Pacific Open title in Tokyo last month.

Reuters

Timea Babos (left) of Hungary and Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic pose with their trophy after defeating Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands and Johanna Larsson of Sweden 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 in the doubles final of the WTA Finals in Singapore on October 29, 2017.

Earlier, Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova rallied to claim the  doubles title in a match tiebreak, the Hungarian-Czech pair recovering from a set down to record a 4-6, 6-4, 10-5 victory over Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson.

The third seeds overcame top-ranked Martina Hingis and Chinese Taipei's Chan Yung-jan to bring an end to the Swiss 37-year-old's career in her last ever tournament on Saturday and followed up that triumph with a gutsy display in the final at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The Belgian-Swedish pair claimed the opener with the only break in the 10th game before the eventual champions broke twice in the second to level the contest and then raced to a 4-0 lead in the match tiebreak on their way to victory in 92 minutes.

"I think our game complements each other very well. Yeah, definitely the key to our success. I think we really played well this week," the 24-year-old Babos told reporters after the pair claimed a fifth title of the year.

"We put our game together for this one, and we really beat the best teams in the world. Yeah, I'm very, very happy with how we performed here."

Hlavackova had reached one WTA Finals title match with compatriot Lucie Hradecka in 2012, losing to Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova, and the 31-year-old was delighted to claim victory in her second final at the event.

"It was a very tough match to turn around but I think in the end, I think you (Babos) changed it. We were very, like, loud and we started to scream "Come on" on every ball," she said.

"We turned it around inside us. We started to believe that this match is not going from us. And in the super-tiebreak, we were just outstanding."

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