Mauresmo beats Venus Williams in Belgium
Top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo beat Venus Williams 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 Sunday to win the Diamond Games for her first victory of the year, denying the American a $1.3 million gem-encrusted racket.
Mauresmo trailed almost throughout the three-set thriller at the sold-out, 14,600-capacity Sports Palace and fought from behind in the last two sets, belying her reputation for struggling under pressure.
"I sought a way to get back in it. That was so satisfying," Mauresmo said.
In the tense final game, she needed five match points before finally pulling off the victory when she hit a shot past Williams at the net.
The 25-year-old Mauresmo now has 16 career titles and closes in again on WTA No. 1 Lindsay Davenport, a position she briefly held last year.
At 5-4 in the second set, Williams was serving for the tournament trophy and seemed ready to post an easy straight set win. But Mauresmo prevailed, and then produced some of the finest tennis of the week.
But it appeared that Williams would pull out her second chance, going up 4-2 in the final set. Yet again, Mauresmo survived and wrapped up the last four games.
"She played great and deserved the title," Williams said.
She added her stomach muscles troubled her during the final, forcing her to pace herself. Such an injury cost her six months of the 2003 season.
"It is the same, but it is different. I don't think I'll be out for six months," she said.
Despite the collapse, Williams is ready to return and try again for the unique trophy, studded with 1,702 diamonds.
"I cannot wait to come back," she said.
Both players showed jitters early, and they exchanged two service breaks to end up tied at 4.
From there, Williams took the first set in 34 minutes when Mauresmo committed an error on set point. Williams clenched her fists, knowing the racket was only one set away.
The quality of serves improved in the second, and Williams forced what seemed to be a decisive breakthrough in the fifth game. But there were problems when she went for the set up 5-4. Two bad volleys, one unforced error and an unlucky let call later, Mauresmo was back in the match.
The Frenchwoman turned everything around when she broke Williams again to force a deciding set. But she lost her momentum when Williams broke her to start the third set.
In a thriller, Williams went ahead 4-2 but then lost four games in a row as her game unraveled.