Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - August 8, 2014

Williams remains at the top of her game

World No. 1 has a response to Wimbledon failure

by Rick Eymer

Once again, the California girl used one of her favorite hardcourt tournaments to set the record straight.

Serena Williams left no doubt as to who the best player is in the world of women's tennis. She showed it by shaking off a bad start and playing to near perfection the rest of the way.

The top-ranked and top-seeded Williams won her WTA-leading fourth title of the season, beating third-seeded Angelique Kerber, 7-6 (1), 6-3, in the championship match of the Bank of the West Classic last Sunday.

On Wednesday, Williams swamped Australia's Samantha Stosur, 6-0, 6-2, in a second round match of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, showing she learned a lot while playing at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center.

Williams had trouble with her first set all week at the Bank of the West. Not so in Montreal, where she was scheduled to meet Czech Republic's Lucie Safarova, a semifinalist at Wimbledon, on Thursday.

Coincidentally, Kerber was slated to play Venus Williams following the Williams-Safarova match on center court.

Serena Williams did not play well at any of the first three Grand Slam tournaments this season and has her sights set on the U.S. Open, where she is the defending champion, to help her finish the year with a flourish.

Williams continued her reign ranked as the No. 1 player, giving her the honor for a 200th non-consecutive week. That's fifth all-time. Martina Hingis is fourth with 209 weeks.

Williams earned $120,000, the highest winning payout in this tournament's history, and a stuffed bear for her trouble this week at Stanford. Kerber picked up a second-place check for $64,000.

Spain's Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro defeated Poland's Paula Kania and Czech Republic's Katerina Siniakova, 6-2, 4-6, 10-5, to win the doubles title and share $38,000 in prize money. The runner-up tandem shares $20,000.

Williams improved to 17-2 overall in matches played at the Taube Family Tennis Center. She's 31-5 this season and 663-117 for her career. Williams is 61-17 in finals.

Any doubt that she's lost a step since her unfortunate departure from a doubles match with her sister Venus at Wimbledon were washed away with Williams' performance in her four matches this week.

Kerber, who fell to 0-4 in finals this season, won five straight games to go up 5-1 and was serving for the set at 5-2. Williams saved two set points and went on her own five-game run.

"I blinked my eye and I was down 1-5," Williams said. "Angelique was playing well and I thought 'what's going on?' I tried to relax, not think about anything, and just wanted to make my shots."

The eighth-ranked Kerber forced a tiebreaker, where Williams took charge with five straight points to open.

Williams beat the left-handed Kerber a fourth straight time and five of six overall. All of their matches have been in straight sets.

Williams extended her winning streak to 13 matches in winning her third title at Stanford in four years.

Kerber, who moved to No. 7 in the rankings, was the first German to reach the final here since Sylvia Hanika in 1987. Bettina Bunge, in 1983, was the last German to win the tournament.

"She showed she's the best player in the world," Kerber said.

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