BEIRUT

Tennis

Serena Williams beats Sharapova to win WTA Champs

ISTANBUL: Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday to win the WTA Championships for the third time and finish the year with another title although not the top ranking.

Williams ended the year with a 59-4 record. Since her first-round loss at the French Open, the American is 31-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open.

But she will finish the year ranked No. 3, behind Sharapova.

Victoria Azarenka, beaten by Sharapova in the semifinals, ended the year as the top-ranked player in the world.

In 2001 and '09 Williams also won the elite, year-end tournament that brings together the top eight players in the world.

Williams raced forward to reach a drop shot and put away a passing-shot winner but the seventh game still went to Sharapova after five deuces. But the American was pumping her fist and there was no holding her back as Williams closed out the set with an ace - one of 11 she had in the match.

She broke Sharapova's serve to start the second and was never really threatened again.

Williams hit a powerful return on her first match point. She finished with 40 winners, compared to Sharapova's 13.

Williams finished the tournament without dropping a set and she also beat Azarenka in round-robin play, one of her four wins against the No. 1 this year.

The American has won 12 straight against opponents ranked No. 1 or No. 2 and has not lost to a player ranked in the top 2 since 2007.

Williams also became the oldest player, at age 31, to win the year-end championships and has seven titles this year.

But because she did not play as well at the start of the year following injuries and illness, Williams will have to settle for the No. 3 ranking despite dominating the tour in the past few months.

 

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