Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 19th 2013 Contents ROME---A week out from the
French Open, Serena Williams
is one victory away from win-
ning her fourth consecutive
title this year.
The top-ranked American
overcame an early break of her
serve to ease past Romanian
qualifier Simona Halep 6-3, 6-
0 Saturday and reach the Italian
Open final, extending her
career-best winning run to 23
Williams is coming off con-
secutive titles in Miami,
Charleston, South Carolina, and
Madrid last week.
In today s final, Williams will
face third-seeded Victoria
Azarenka, who kept her con-
centration through two rain
delays to beat seventh-seeded
Sara Errani 6-0, 7-5.
In the men s tournament, six-
time champion Rafael Nadal
reached the final by defeating
sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-
2, 6-4, a day after Berdych ral-
lied to beat top-ranked Novak
After being pushed to three
sets in his previous two match-
es, against Latvian qualifier
Ernests Gulbis and fourth-seed-
ed David Ferrer, Nadal appeared
back in his comfort zone against
Nadal s final opponent will
be either Roger Federer or 36th-
ranked Benoit Paire of France,
who were playing a night match
at the Foro Italico.
Williams only title at this
clay-court event came in 2002,
when she beat Justine Henin in
the final. That was also the year
she won her only French Open
title. Last year in Paris, Williams
lost in the opening round of a
major for the first time, falling
to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano
Roland Garros starts next
"I love the clay. I haven t had
many wins at Roland Garros
but I do love it. I love to slide,"
Williams said. "My goal is just
to win a match there this year."
Williams had twice won 21
matches in a row before,
although both of those runs
came a decade ago, in 2002
Martina Navratilova estab-
lished the longest women s win
run in the Open Era at 74
matches in 1984.
At 31, Williams is back at the
top of her game after missing
11 months in 2010 and 2011 with
a right foot injury and a pul-
The 64th-ranked Halep
entered with an impressive run
herself, having beaten former
top-ten player Daniela Hantu-
chova to qualify and then oust-
ing 2009 French Open cham-
pion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the
first round. That was followed
with wins over fourth-seeded
Agnieszka Radwanksa, 13th-
seeded Roberta Vinci and two-
time Rome winner Jelena
Solid on both sides and an
agile mover, the 2008 French
Open girls champion took a set
off Williams in their only pre-
vious meeting in the second
round of Wimbledon two years
ago. Halep tested Williams again
at the start of this match,
angling baseline shots to the
corners to force the 15-time
Grand Slam winner into errors.
Halep broke to take a 2-1 lead
in the first set, but Williams
broke right back and cruised
from there as she gained the
measure of her opponent and
began to win the longer rallies.
Williams went directly to the
practice court after winning.
"I was unhappy with some
things today," she said. "I want
to do well here as well as (in
It s Azarenka s first final since
beating Williams for the title in
February at Doha, Qatar. That
followed her Australian Open
victory. Since then, Azarenka
has been slowed by right ankle
and left foot injuries.
Errani reached last year s
French Open final and was the
first Italian semifinalist in this
tournament since Raffaella Reggi
won the 1985 event in Taran-
to.Azarenka did well to take the
crowd out of the match early
on, and never trailed in the sec-
May 19, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Serena Williams nears
4th straight title of year
US Serena Williams returns the ball to Romania's Simona Halep
during their semi final match at the Italian Open tennis
tournament in Rome, yesterday. Williams won 6-3, 6-0. AP PHOTO
The world number two gave a pessimistic assess-
ment of his back problem after pulling out of the
Masters event in Rome on Wednesday, stating he
would be "very surprised" if he made it to Paris.
Andy Murray struggled with the injury during the
clay-court season last year and revealed he has expe-
rienced pain on and off for the past 18 months. The
Scot had a scan yesterday and sources in the Scot s
camp confirmed he was today resting and would hold
talks with specialists in the coming days.
The French Open begins next Sunday.
Murray is not rushing his decision, likely to come
on Wednesday, but would not want to risk the injury
worsening during the year s second grand slam, on
the basis that it could jeopardise his plans for the
summer and threaten his Wimbledon involvement.
The 26-year-old reached the Roland Garros quar-
ter-finals last year, losing to David Ferrer, before enjoying
a glorious summer, reaching his first Wimbledon final,
landing the Olympic gold medal at Wimbledon, and
triumphing at the US Open to win his first grand slam.
Novak Djokovic admitted he only had himself
to blame after the world number one fell victim
to a stunning comeback from Tomas Berdych to
exit the Internazionali d Italia at the quarter-
The Czech world number six rallied from 2-6
2-5 down to pull off a battling 2-6 7-5 6-4 win
over the top seed in two hours and 22 minutes.
It was Berdych s first win over Djokovic since
the 2010 Wimbledon semi-final, and only his sec-
ond in 15 attempts.
"I lost concentration and started to play more
defensively," the Serbian said on the ATP Web site.
"(I played) a bad game at 5-3 and I made some
unforced errors. At this level you have to take
advantage of the opportunities and I lost this game
Berdych was just delighted to have broken his
hoodoo against the world s top player.
"One day you have to break (the run) and I am
happy that it was today," he said.
In the second early men s quarter-final, French-
man Benoit Paire wasted no time dispatching
Spain s Marcel Granollers 6-1 6-0.
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