DUBAI // The first full house of this year's Dubai Tennis Championships assembled tonight to watch the latest episode in the battle for supremacy between the Williams sisters, the Californian siblings who have won 17 of their sport's major honours and a total of 72 professional titles between them. They went into their semi-final of the US$2m tournament tied at nine wins each in their personal duels and as usual there was little to choose between them, their clash requiring a final-set tie-break which Venus took comfortably to claim a 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 victory. Effectively it was a one set match after Venus had romped through the first set in the face of token resistance by her sister, who failed to win a single point against the serve, and Serena had done the same in the second, also with the minimum of fuss. Both players were totally committed in the final set, though, and after a break of serve each during the first six games it was anybody's guess who was going to come out on top. As the capacity crowd warmed more and more to the contest which gradually improved in quality Venus showed greater composure in the breaker to go through into tonight's final in which she will be the overwhelming favourite to take the $350,000 first prize. Venus will face the unseeded Virginie Razzano in the final after the plucky Frenchwoman capitalised on her victories over two of the world's top 10 - the Russians Dinara Safina and Vera Zvonareva - to outplay her Estonian semi-final opponent Kaia Kanepi. Whatever happens at the conclusion of a tournament which attracted all of the top 10 players in the game, Serena, who has been hampered in recent encounters by a knee injury, will remain as world No 1, a position she regained after winning her 10th grand slam title - the Australian Open - last month. Venus, a former world No 1, will move up a place in the rankings from six to five while Razzano, who arrived here as the world's 58th-ranked player, will depart among the top 50. firstname.lastname@example.org
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