Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Venus Williams completes comeback with triumph

BACK WITH A BANG The elder Williams sister won her first tournament since Wimbledon in 2005, while Andy Roddick gained revenge on Andy Murray

AFP , MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

Venus Williams, center, signs autographs as she leaves the court after defeating Shahar Peer to win the Cellular South Cup in Memphis, Tennessee, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Venus Williams capped her return from injury with a dominant victory over top-seeded Israeli Shahar Peer on Saturday in the final of the men's and women's hardcourt tournament in Memphis.

Williams, seeded seventh, downed Peer 6-1, 6-1 to triumph in her first WTA event since an early exit at Luxembourg last October.

The elder Williams sister had been kept off the court by a nagging wrist injury. She had hoped to play at the Australian Open, but instead watched from the sidelines as younger sister Serena won the first Grand Slam of the year.

Williams needed just 68 minutes to deny Peer a fourth WTA title. She earned her 34th career crown and her first since Wimbledon 2005.

"I'm so excited," beamed Williams, who served six aces and won 85 percent of her first serve points.

In men's action, top-seeded Andy Roddick defeated Andy Murray in straight sets to reach the final and avenge a loss to the young Scot last week.

Roddick beat the third-seeded Murray 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) to set up a final against defending champion Tommy Haas.

Germany's second-seeded Haas defeated Mardy Fish of the US 6-3, 6-4.

Last week Murray ousted Roddick in the semi-finals en route to retaining his title in San Jose, California.

This marks the first time the tournament's top two seeds have met in the final since 1987, when Stefan Edberg beat Jimmy Connors, who now coaches Roddick.

Roddick broke Murray in the second game of the match en route to an easy first-set win.

Murray appeared poised to send the match to a third set after breaking Roddick to take a 5-3 lead in the second.

But the American broke back immediately, taking advantage of three unforced errors by Murray to get to the tiebreaker.

"I didn't play a great match today, in fairness," Murray said. "I had my chance at 5-3 to win the set and played a horrible game to get broken. In the tiebreak, I missed one bad shot at 4-3, a forehand that hit the tape, and to be fair to him, he came up with some big shots and big serves and deserved to win the match, but I definitely didn't play my best today."

A cross-court winner saw Roddick go ahead 5-4 in the tiebreaker, which he completed with two consecutive aces.

"That was real big for me to try and finish strong," said Roddick, who booked his first finals berth since last year's US Open. He hasn't won a title since Cincinnati in August of last year.

Haas encountered much less resistance from Fish, dropping just five points on his first serve in his fourth consecutive straight-set win of the tournament.

"Most of my first serves were in, and even on my second serves, I feel like I was not so much under pressure so I could try to dictate the play after I served," Haas said. "Anytime I can do that and be in a rally, I feel pretty comfortable."

Also a winner in Memphis in 1999, Haas fired 13 aces and did not face a break point.

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