Unseeded Aravane Rezai played some magical tennis on the clay of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open and defeated fourth seed Venus Williams 6-2 7-5 in an entertaining and competitive Premier-level final to win the biggest title of her career. The world No.24 Rezai played a game of powerful and precise groundstrokes, and her determination and self-confidence were on just as high level.
By breaking Venus in the third and seventh games, Rezai won the first set 6-2 in just about half an hour. But the second set was the one which has probably given Rezai plenty of new fans. Rezai was trailing Venus 5-2, but giving up was the last thing on her mind. The Frenchwoman won five successive games to win the match on her first match point, but only after saving six set points, five of which were at Venus’ 5-4 lead.
Here is Rezai’s far from easy route to victory: Justine Henin in the first round, then Klara Zakopalova, Andrea Petkovic, seventh seed Jelena Jankovic, Lucie Safarova (retired), and finally Venus Williams.
World No.3 Venus, who will as of tomorrow be No.2, was denied her 44th career title, while Rezai won her third (after Strasbourg and Bali in 2009). Not only did Rezai win the biggest title of her career, but she won an inspiring sum of money, €620,000, while Venus took home €310,000 with her runner-up finish in singles.
Venus had previously won the 2010 Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open doubles title with her sister Serena, as they ended the great streak of Gisela Dulko and Flavia Pennetta with a 6-2 7-5 victory over the Argentinean-Italian pair in the final. The recent victories of Dulko and Pennetta include Miami, Stuttgart and Rome titles. (photos: Stephane Martinache)