MASON, Ohio (AP) — Serena Williams got one of her most elusive titles on her sixth try.
Williams needed only 62 minutes to beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 on Sunday in the Western & Southern Open for a personal breakthrough. She’d never even reached the finals in Cincinnati until last year, when she fell apart and lost to Victoria Azarenka on a third-set tiebreaker.
No wobbles this time. After getting broken in the first game, she took control with her serve and took advantage of Ivanovic’s sloppy play, improving to 5-0 in finals this year.
Ivanovic was treated for a stomach ailment during her nearly 3-hour win over Maria Sharapova in the semifinals Saturday night. She didn’t have much left against Williams, who served 12 aces while getting a long-awaited trophy.
The only other event that Williams has played six times without a title is Sydney.
It was a good matchup for Williams, who is 7-1 in her career against Ivanovic. Her only loss came at the Australian Open this year. Although their last three matches have been close – all going three sets – this one was one-sided after the first few games.
Williams developed a stiff back that limited her serve in the semifinals Saturday night. She moved stiffly at the start Sunday, double-faulted in the first game and was broken – an ominous sign. But she started moving better and took control with her serve, pulling even at 3-3. She clinched the set when Ivanovic fell behind 15-30, then double-faulted twice in a row.
The back problem came into play in the second set. Williams winced after a serve in the opening game and arched her back. She stretched her back a few times between points.
Ivanovic couldn’t take advantage. Despite the loss, she’ll move back into the top 10 in the WTA rankings with her strong showing in Cincinnati.
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