Saturday, January 28, 2017

Serena beats Venus for Open Era-record 23rd title

Serena Williams, shown in 2014, defeated Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 for her
seventh Australian Open singles title. Tri Nguyen/ 
   Well, wasn't that thrilling.
   In a typically ragged match between the Williams sisters, Serena defeated Venus 6-4, 6-4 today in the Australian Open in Melbourne to set the Open Era record with her 23rd Grand Slam singles title.
   Serena, who had been tied with Steffi Graf, now will try to break Margaret Court's all-time record of 24.
   Serena won her seventh Australian Open title, regained the No. 1 ranking and improved to 17-11 against Venus. Serena has won eight of the last nine matches in the head-to-head series.
   The sisters combined for 48 winners, 48 unforced errors, 17 aces (10 by Serena) and eight double faults in the final.
   Serena, 35, flailed melodramatically at serves to the corners and did not chase some balls. It appeared she could have blown Venus, 36, off the court if she had been so inclined.
   Only once, in the 10th game of the match, did ESPN commentator Chris Evert acknowledge "the elephant in the room, that (Serena) is playing her sister." Evert's colleagues, Chris Fowler and Mary Joe Fernandez, did not mention it at all during the match.
   Venus, who was diagnosed with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease in 2011, was playing in her first Grand Slam final since losing to Serena at Wimbledon in 2009. Venus has won seven major singles titles, most recently Wimbledon in 2008.
   The sisters have combined to win five singles titles in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Venus triumphed in 2000 and 2002, and Serena prevailed in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
   The Williams sisters weren't the only American siblings playing for a title today. The Grand Slam drought of third-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford 1997-98) continued with a 7-5, 7-5 loss to fourth-seeded Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia.
   The 38-year-old Bryan twins have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles (six in the Australian Open) but none since the 2014 U.S. Open.
   Kontinen and Peers won their first major title, together or individually, and defeated the Bryans in straight sets for the third consecutive time in the last three months. Kontinen and Peers also won the Paris Masters and ATP World Tour Finals in London last November.

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