ACAPULCO, Mexico — Venus Williams
came from a set down to defend her Mexican Open title, while David
Ferrer defeated good friend and fellow Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero to
end his 14-match winning streak.
Williams beat Polona Hercog 2-6, 6-2,
6-3 on Saturday night for her second consecutive title — this one on
clay to go with Dubai a week ago on hard courts. The win pushed her
career total to 43 WTA championships, the most by an active player.
Ferrer lost to Ferrero at the Copa
Telmex last week in Buenos Aires, but got a little bit of revenge with
a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory in Acapulco. Ferrero's winning streak had
included ATP titles in his last two tournaments, in Brazil and
Williams started slowly and got into
trouble with an erratic serve and groundstrokes that were often long.
Hercog was poised in winning the first set and seldom missed a shot.
The American gained her composure in
the second set and began to wear down the 19-year-old Slovenian,
hitting the corners more often and opening the court.
"I played such a good opponent,"
Williams said. "In the first set she did not miss one shot and I had to
find a way to get into the match."
As she did last year in winning,
Williams donned a huge sombrero — known as a "charro," the type worn by
Mexico Mariachi musicians — and turned to salute the crowd. She
suggested she'll be back next year for at shot at three straight.
"I would love to come next year," she
said. "I have to make it three, a hat trick. I think I can do it. It's
not an easy tournament to win, as you can see this year."
It was Williams' first tournament of
the season on clay, and she was pushed to three sets in her final three
matches by lightly rated opponents. Williams beat No. 399 Laura Pios
Tio in the quarterfinals, No. 164 Edina Gallovits in the semifinals and
60th-ranked Hercog, who was playing in her first WTA final.
Williams came from 5-1 down in the
final set to win the quarterfinals against Pous Tio, cheered on by fans
chanting, "Venus, Venus." The fans were just as vocal in the Saturday's
"It's too bad Mexican fans can't follow me around the world and give me that support," Williams said. "I'm going to miss it."
The victory was Williams' ninth on
clay, second on the active list to Justine Henin. She disputes any
suggestion she's only an average clay-court player, though.
"I actually feel like I've had good results on clay," she said.
Ferrero's winning streak stopped
just short of his personal record. In 2002, he won 16 straight matches
to help propel him to the No. 1 ranking in 2003.
Both players said Ferrero's fatigue played a role, the result of three straight tournaments in three weeks across Latin America.
"I was more aggressive, hitting harder," Ferrer said. "It was the other way around in Buenos Aires."