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Venus Williams returns the ball to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during the final of the WTA J&S Cup in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, May 2, 2004. Williams won the tournament
 

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May 2, 2004



© Zbigniew Dobrosz

Venus Wins Warsaw

WARSAW, Poland - One year after bowing out in the final due to an injury, Venus Williams finally captured the J&S Cup on Sunday in Warsaw, defeating Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova in the championship match, 61 64 in just less than an hour. Last year, Williams seemed poised to win the Warsaw title before she was struck with a left abdominal muscle injury during the first set in the championship match against Amelie Mauresmo. She quickly dropped the second set and finally retired from the match at 3-0 in the third set. That same abdominal injury lingered on for the rest of the year, forcing Williams to miss the final five months of the 2003 season.

This year, Williams played through Warsaw injury free and only dropped one set en route to her second straight WTA Tour title.

"It has been a great tournament for me," Williams said. "It's very important for me to win here today at this stage of my career and so important to follow up my win at the Family Circle Cup.

"I feel normal now. When I am not winning it's just abnormal for me. I tried not to be hard on myself with the matches I did not win at the start of the year."

Williams was also able to avenge an earlier loss this year to Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals at Dubai. Kuznetsova rolled to a 62 63 victory against the former world No.1 in that match, but Williams insists her game has progressed since that meeting in February.

"I wanted to show today that the girl in Dubai was not Venus Williams," Williams said. "I really wanted to take the title. We had strong points and long points. The longer the point the more I enjoyed it."

With her championship victory, Williams adds Warsaw as her second consecutive WTA Tour title after winning the Family Circle Cup in Charleston three weeks ago. Including her week in Charleston and her two Fed Cup victories against Slovenia last weekend, Williams has now won 11 straight matches and will be considered a heavy favorite heading into this week's Tier I event in Berlin, the Ladies German Open.

Williams, who will move up to No.11 in Monday's updated WTA Rankings, has now won 31 career titles. She defeated Fabiola Zuluaga, Magdalena Maleeva and No.3 seed Vera Zvonareva to reach the final.

Kuznetsova falls to 0-3 this year in WTA Tour finals, having previously fallen to Justine Henin-Hardenne in Dubai and losing a three-set match to Anastasia Myskina the following week in Doha.

"It was a tough match for me today," Kuznetsova said. "Venus played very well. She has done a good job of coming back after being out for such a long time and win two tournaments in a row.

"My biggest mistake in the first set was that I was trying to hit the ball harder than Venus. I had no expectations going into this tournament but overall I am very happy because I've reached the final especially after having no coach with me this week."

In doubles, the Italian tandem of Silvia Farina Elia and Francesca Schiavone won their first title as a team by defeating the Argentine duo of Gisela Dulko and Patricia Tarabini, 36 62 61. It was the second final of the year for Farina Elia and Schiavone, who fell to Barbara Schett and Patty Schnyder in the final of the Open Gaz de France in Paris earlier this year.

The win was the ninth doubles title for Farina Elia and the second for Schiavone.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
Venus masters tourney where injured last year



Associated Press
WARSAW, Poland -- Venus Williams kept her winning streak going Sunday.






Williams beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-4 in the J&S Cup final for her second straight WTA tournament title and 11th consecutive victory.





The streak is Williams' longest since she took 19 straight matches in 2002. It started with her title run in Charleston, S.C., and continued with two wins in the United States' triumph over Slovenia in the Fed Cup.





"My win in Charleston was great for me, but it was so important for me to follow it up this week. I was playing strong and playing better each match," Williams said.





The victory was especially satisfying for Williams, who had her mother Oracene in the stands. In the Warsaw final a year ago an abdominal muscle injury forced her to retire in the third set.





After playing through the French Open and Wimbledon with the injury, Williams was sidelined for the remainder of 2003.





"What happened here last year wasn't in my mind," Williams said. "I feel normal now because before, when I wasn't winning, it was very abnormal for me. But of course they were extreme circumstances, and I try not to be too hard on myself for the matches I didn't win earlier this year.





"I think I've been able to really get my movement back to the way it used to be before my injuries. I feel like I can get to any ball, and I know my opponent is feeling the pressure because I am getting to every ball."





Kuznetsova beat Williams in February in Dubai when the American was in the early stages of her comeback from her six-month injury break. But the Russian never looked comfortable Sunday.





Williams overwhelmed Kuznetsova in the first set with powerful groundstrokes, forcing her into errors. One of those gave Williams a break for 2-1, and a fierce service return trapped Kuznetsova into another error to give Williams a 4-1 lead.





After dropping her serve again to concede the first set, Kuznetsova called for the trainer and had the upper half of her left leg wrapped. When Williams broke again to lead 2-0, it appeared that the end would come swiftly.





But Williams started to struggle with her serve, hitting two double faults and Kuznetsova immediately recovered the break. Williams then failed to convert a break point to lead 4-3, but a poor service game from Kuznetsova at 5-4 allowed Williams to take her fifth break and the match.





Kuznetsova made little of her thigh strain, and said she had simply failed to find her game.





"I missed so many easy balls that I don't usually do," Kuznetsova said. "I didn't serve well. My first serve, she was attacking so much. In the second set it was closer but at 5-4 I made so many unforced errors.





"Of course I'm upset about losing the match, but I can take some positives. I didn't decide to come until the last moment and I came here alone. So still getting to the final is a good job. I can start to believe more and more in myself, because I did this alone."



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