Dubai - Venus Williams has lost her title and an unbeaten record stretching
back a decade when she subsided to a 6-4, 6-2 third round Dubai Open
defeat against Lucie Safarova
The 34-year-old American's serving
delivery was at half pace for much of the match in a court temperature
of about 40 degrees, her movement was slow, and her appetite for the
battle not great.
Williams dropped serve in the opening game and
after failing to convert three successive break back points at 4-5, no
longer looked a serious contender for victory.
The result was more
a surprise given that this was only Williams' second defeat this year,
and that she may now have to wait a while before returning to the
world's top ten after a four-year interval, one of her goals.
I want to win and then your ranking goes up," she said. "But I have
been super happy with the year so far and I am disappointed to lose. She
is a player who hits the ball a little bit different. I don't think I
was playing badly."
Safarova's serve was certainly difficult to
read, and she mixed in swerving deliveries into the body with others
swung out wide, testing the reach on a right-hander's double-handed
She also hit confidently, and moved remarkably well
considering she had had a three-hour match the previous day followed by a
doubles. "That's what you train for," Safarova said.
felt well on court. It sometimes gives you extra confidence when you
come close to defeat (against Casey Dellacqua of Australia) and you turn
Safarova also claimed to have taken confidence from
winning a Grand Slam doubles title at last month's Australian Open. She
was due to play the winner of Ana Ivanovic, the former world number one
from Serbia, and Karolina Pliskova, her rising 22-year-old compatriot.
Williams will return home earlier than expected after 16 successive
wins in Dubai, it will not alter to her decision to continuing giving a
miss to the Indian Wells tournament which starts in three weeks' time.
"It will give me a chance to rest," she said.
Her sister Serena
Williams, the world number one, has by contrast agreed to return to the
Californian event after a 14-year interval during which both sisters
have boycotted the tournament - a response to hostile, allegedly racist,
treatment from spectators. Venus was quizzed about her attitude to
Asked if Serena had consulted her on this sensitive
decision, Venus said: "You know, she didn't ask me my opinion. She just
said, I might be playing there. I said, Oh, okay. That's pretty much the
And asked if she could understand the decision to
let bygones be bygones, she said: "Um, I don't know. I just respect
every decision she makes, pretty much. There's nothing complicated about
Venus was then invited to say whether she would consider
returning to Indian Wells one day, to which she replied: "I haven't
really given a lot of thought to it. I have just been focusing on this
Earlier Agnieszka Radwanska, a former titleholder, was also
beaten. The fifth-seeded Pole has been suffering from a virus and
looked below par for the second successive day as she lost 6-4, 6-2 to
Garbine Muguruza, a 21-year-old from Barcelona who looks en route for
the top 20.
And later Flavia Pennetta, a wild card entry who saved
four match points against Julie Goerges of Germany in the first round,
followed it by winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 against the seventh-seeded
Angelique Kerber, another German.