Finals deliver title defences and maiden crowns

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Novak Djokovic has defended his Dubai Tennis Championships title, a week after Venus Williams claimed back-to-back titles in the women’s tournament in Dubai.

Since winning Dubai, Williams had flown to Acapulco where she was seeking to complete the same title double she’d achieved in 2009, and it was mission accomplished for the defending champion against Polona Hercog in the first WTA final of her career.

Top seeded Williams took a touch over two hours to defeat the world No. 60 after she dropped the first set 2-6 on Acapulco’s clay courts, but bounced then back to win the remaining sets 6-2, 6-3.

With that, the American claimed her 43rd career title, extending her lead over Justine Henin (41 tournament victories) as the active player with the most WTA titles in her career. The victory also propelled Venus into the top 10 on the all-time list of women’s singles titles, tied with Martina Hingis.

As sister Serena continues to write her name in the Grand Slam record books, and Venus fast approaches two years without winning a major title (her last was at Wimbledon in 2008) it’s one record that the elder sibling might hold over her sister when their illustrious careers eventually come to an end.

For Djokovic, Dubai was the 17th time in his career that he’d held up the silverware at the end of the tournament, his title achieved by virtue of victory over Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in a rain-interrupted final.

The Serb had not had an easy run all tournament - his semi-final victory against Marcos Baghdatis was typical of Djokovic’s performances here - so it was little surprise the final was also decided in three sets, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 in the world No. 2’s favour.

While Venus completed a double title defence over the past fortnight, for Djokovic it was the first time he’d successfully won back-to-back titles at a tournament.

Back in Acapulco, and the all-Spanish final was a repeat of the previous week’s decider in Buenos Aires, but this time David Ferrer was able to turn the tables on his Davis Cup teammate. Ferrero entered the final seeking his third straight title in the 2010 Latin American clay court swing but Ferrer was not to be denied his first title since 2008, taking the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-1.

In the USA, the big-serving Ivo Karlovic could only muster 14 aces against Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis in the Delray Beach final. It was a telling statistic for the Croatian, whose un-hittable serves are the bread and butter of his game, and consequently it was Gulbis who took the first ATP title of his career with a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

There was another first-time titlist in Kuala Lumpur, where Alisa Kleybanova easily accounted for the in-form Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2 in the final to deliver on what had looked to be some promising form at the Australian Open earlier in the year. The loss meant Dementieva will have to wait a little longer for her third title of 2010, and on current performances that’s a feat the world No. 7 will surely achieve inside the first six months of the year, even if she’s been denied a title triple within two months.

The WTA action this week moves on to Monterrey, while the ATP Tour takes a break to accommodate the first round ties of this year’s Davis Cup competition.



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