October 27, 2009

Serena defeats Svetlana Kuznetsova at SEC

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - Serena Williams overcame Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (6), 7-5 in the group stage of the Sony Ericsson Championships on Tuesday, improving her chance of ending the year as No. 1. Williams saved two set points in the tiebreaker despite a sore right ankle and made the decisive break for 6-5 in the second before serving out the match at love. "I really wanted it for myself," Williams said. "I just let go and relaxed." Serena connected on 11 aces and 0 double faults.

Kuznetsova, the French Open champion, led 6-4 in the first set tiebreaker but Williams erased the first set point with a return winner and the second with an ace — after a Hawkeye challenge to overturn the line judge's call that the serve was out. After trading breaks early in the second, Kuznetsova had a game point on serve at 5-5 but double-faulted twice to give Williams a break opportunity, which the Wimbledon and Australian Open champ converted with a return winner. Williams played with tape on both ankles, and needed to have the right one treated and retaped after the first set. "I rolled it in the tiebreaker, and I was like 'Oh no!"' Williams said. "But it turned out well."

This was Serena's third time playing Svetlana this year. Serena previously defeated Svetlana at the Australian Open and lost to Kuznetsova at the French Open. Serena will play her sister Venus on Wednesday and can secure a spot in the semifinals with a win. Aside from a winner's check of up to $1.55 million, Dinara Safina and No. 2 Serena Williams are also vying for the year-end No. 1 ranking. Safina's margin is so slim that the player who performs best here will end 2009 atop the list.

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