January 14, 2010

Serena rallies to beat Rezai; Advances to Final

Top-ranked Serena Williams rallied from a set and 5-2 down to beat Aravane Rezai 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday and will face defending champion, Elena Dementieva in the Sydney International final. Rezai was serving for the match at 5-3 in the second set but reigning Australian Open champion Williams won the next five games to level it and go a break up in the third.

Rezai of France recovered breaks in the first and seventh games of the third set but Williams broke her to lead 5-4 and then served it out. "Was I down that far? I didn't even realize," Williams said. "I don't think she lost her way at all. I felt like I literally lifted my game at that point, because I knew I was going to be headed to Melbourne if I didn't.

"I kept thinking, 'I want to get a little more practice, and I'd hate for it to end now."' Williams has won 35 titles, including the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the season-ending championship last season, but has never reached the Sydney final, held in the week leading up to the year's first major. "Cool ... finally," she said, relishing the opportunity to gain match fitness and touch in her first tournament of the year.

"That was good because she played really hard, like a top player. That was really good preparation." "I expect a tough match. She's a great champion," Dementieva said of Williams. "I just hope it's going to be a good match for both of us, and good preparation for the Open.

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