x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Wonders never cease with Rogers Cup winner Serena Williams

Another title for American and Roger Federer claims back problems are over.

Serena Williams beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-0 in a match that lasted only 61 minutes. Mark Blinch / Reuters
Serena Williams beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-0 in a match that lasted only 61 minutes. Mark Blinch / Reuters

Sorana Cirstea finally ran into a giant she could not slay.

Serena Williams ended the run of upsets by Cirstea in the final of the Rogers Cup on Sunday, overpowering the Romanian for the 54th WTA title of her career.

Cirstea had knocked off top-10 players Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Li Na on her march to the final, with her victory over the fifth-ranked Li matching her biggest upset.

But Williams ended her title hopes in a hurry, taking her apart 6-2, 6-0 in a match that lasted only 61 minutes.

Williams came out of the blocks with three straight games for a 3-0 lead, and after Cirstea got on the board with a pair of games herself to close to 3-2, the No 1-seeded American shifted back into cruise control, reeling off the next nine games in a row.

Williams claimed her third Rogers Cup, also winning the Premier-level event in 2001 and 2011.

Williams now has 54 wins to her name, joining Monica Seles in a tie for ninth place on the all-time list for WTA titles.

It signalled that Williams, who was bounced from Wimbledon in the fourth round after winning the French Open three weeks earlier, is primed and ready for the US Open, which begins on August 26.

She had kind words for Cirstea in her trophy speech, after the Romanian was visibly emotional.

"You're so young, I wish I was 23, don't be sad," said Williams, 31, during the post-match presentation.

"You've beaten so many top players this week and you're really such a good player."

She then turned to the crowd and added: "Sorana's one of the nicest girls on tour and has such a bright future."

Especially if she can steer clear of the American. It the Romanian's third straight-sets loss to Williams in as many meetings.

In men's play, Andy Murray saw his hopes of a third career doubles title dashed as he and playing partner Colin Fleming were beaten by Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.

Murray teamed up with Fleming after his singles defeat to Ernests Gulbis, with Fleming's usual partner Jonny Marray unable to compete due to his world ranking.

The Wimbledon champion had previously won doubles titles in Valencia and Tokyo with brother Jamie and looked on course for an unlikely third after defeating the fourth, fifth and sixth-seeded pairs en route to the final.

But Austrian Peya and Brazilian Soares had too much for them in the final and claimed a 6-4, 7-6 victory.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer said the back pain that has hindered him for months is under control, and that his focus is squarely on defending his title at the Cincinnati Masters this week

The Swiss, who celebrated his 32nd birthday on Thursday, is counting on "passion" to reignite his tennis after he was eliminated in the second round at Wimbledon last month, which was followed by injury-plagued weeks on the clay courts in Hamburg and Gstaad.

"My passion is sky high," he said. "If the passion doesn't overweigh all the rest, the end is extremely near.

"You might be doing it for the wrong reasons. But I love what I'm doing."

A five-time winner in Cincinnati, fifth-seeded Federer was given an opening bye in the tournament, which begins on Monday.

He pronounced himself "fit and mentally motivated" going into the event. Federer said he made late entries last month into the pair of European clay events in the hope of forgetting his Wimbledon setback, and also to try out a new, larger racket head after 15 years with a smaller model.

The racket project quickly became an afterthought as back pain kicked in during the Hamburg tournament and contributed to a first-round defeat in the Swiss village of Gstaad.

"I wanted to get over Wimbledon as quickly as possible," he said. "I was ready to go in Hamburg and tried to enjoy playing. But I had too many problems in the back and the body, they came up gradually.

"In Gstaad, I was not prepared. I played OK. It was not like I couldn't play at all."

Still, the 17-time grand slam winner wasn't pleased.

"It was frustrating not to be able to play proper tennis," he said. "I really didn't want to pull out of Montreal [last week], but it gives me more time to prepare here."

Federer arrived in the US on Wednesday and said he plans to keep using his new racket.

"But I couldn't focus on the racket, so I really don't know how I was feeling the balls," he said. "Right now, I'm happy with the prototype and plan to keep playing with it here."


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