Venus Williams was unable to build on her remarkable semi-final victory over her sister Serena as Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska claimed the 14th title of her career in Montreal last night. The world No 5, who had not won a tournament for 11 months, beat Williams 6-4, 6-2 to put herself among the front-runners for the forthcoming US Open, which begins in a fortnight’s time.
For Williams, nevertheless, it had been a memorable week and provided further confirmation of her return to form at the age of 34. Life has not always been easy for the American since her diagnosis with Sjogren’s syndrome, an incurable auto-immune disease which causes fatigue and joint pain, but she refuses to bring an end to a career which has brought her so much success.
Williams fell out of the world’s top 60 last summer but has been climbing back up the rankings in recent months. She won her first title for two years in Dubai in February and is expected to return to the world’s top 20 for the first time for more than a year when the rankings are updated today.
Radwanska, in comparison, had not been in her best form of late. This was her first appearance in a final for five months. However, the 25-year-old never looked back after making a good start.
Radwanska, who punished Williams’ second serves throughout, led 4-1 in the first set before the American launched a bold recovery, but Radwanska held firm and went on to serve out for the set.
The Pole broke in the opening game of the second set before Williams recovered to 2-2. However, Radwanska then reeled off four games in a row to secure her triumph after 81 minutes.
Williams’ 6-7, 6-2, 6-3 victory on Saturday had been her first over her younger sister for five years.
However, the world No 1 insisted that there was nothing to read into the result. “For me it was just a regular match,” Serena Williams said. “Obviously, she’s my sister but I still want to go out there and try to play well and try to win. I think Venus played a great match.”
Britain’s Heather Watson, following her successful week in Montreal, last night qualified for the main draw for this week’s tournament in Cincinnati, which will feature the world’s leading women and men.
The British No 1 defeated Israel’s Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-0 in the final qualifying round.
James Ward also reached the main draw via the qualifying tournament last night. The 27-year-old Londoner beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6, 7-5 in the second round of qualifying after beating Tobias Kamke in the first.
Andy Murray has a bye in the first round, after which he will play either Portugal’s Joao Sousa or a qualifier. Thereafter the Scot is seeded to meet the American John Isner in the third round and Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.
For most of the top players Cincinnati will be the last tournament before the US Open.
Murray, who won the Cincinnati title in 2008 and 2011, will be particularly keen to have a prolonged run after losing to France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals of the Toronto Masters.
Tsonga was facing Federer in last night’s final in Toronto – his first Masters Series final for three years.