Venus Williams beats Maria Sharapova to win Hong Kong exhibition
7 hours ago
HONG KONG - Venus Williams beat Russia's Maria Sharapova in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 Saturday to win the JB Group Classic exhibition in Hong Kong - a warmup for the Australian Open.
Both players were holding serve comfortably in the early games, but the Russian faltered first. Serving at 4-5 in the first set, Sharapova sent a backhand into the net after a long rally and then missed another backhand to give the American a one-set lead.
Sharapova, who has won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, was erratic in the second set.
Down 3-2, she double-faulted and missed a forehand to give the reigning Wimbledon champ the crucial break.
Sharapova did save two match points in her final service game, but Williams held to love to take the match, closing out the game with a forehand winner.
"It's very exciting, especially going into the Australian, having played very well against someone of her (Sharapova's) caliber," Williams said. The Australian Open will run from Jan. 14-27.
Williams, a six-time Grand Slam winner, complained Friday of an unspecified injury but appeared unaffected Saturday.
She said the nature of the injury still wasn't clear but she felt better after treatment. Williams also said she fell on her left wrist while practising in Hong Kong but that the wrist felt 100 per cent Saturday.
"I just had the opportunity to get my racket on the ball and play it deep. I guess I served well. I returned OK. So I guess it was about doing everything good," she said.
Sharapova said she took some chances because she was playing against an opponent that was playing well.
"When your opponent is serving big and serving consistently, you've really got to take your chances on opportunities, on second serves, which I did a poor job of," she said.
The eight-woman field at the JB Group Classic also featured Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, Russia's Elena Dementieva, China's Peng Shuai, Russia's Anna Chakvetadze, Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova and Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki.