Serena Williams back on the recovery trail with victory in Stanford
Serena Williams left the tennis world in no doubt she was close to her best as she beat third seed Marion Bartoli 7-5, 6-1 to claim the Bank of the West Classic crown in Stanford.
The American, who had slipped to 169 in the world following a year of injury and health problems, dismantled Maria Sharapova and Germany's Sabine Lisicki to reach the final, but found life a little tougher against Bartoli.
The Frenchwoman led 4-2 in the first set and served for it at 5-4, but Williams broke back to begin a run of eight consecutive games, which effectively sealed the match and her 38th WTA Tour title in just her third tournament back following her lengthy lay-off.
It represented a measure of revenge for Williams, who was beaten by Bartoli at Wimbledon this year, but she was not entirely satisfied with her performance.
"There are still shots I'm not going for and not making that I know I can make once I get more confident and more match play," she said.
"I'll be able to make those. It's encouraging to me that I can do more, I can do better."
The victory in California should send Williams back into the top 80.
Meanwhile, Ernests Gulbis beat the top seed Mardy Fish 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Farmers Classic in Los Angeles to claim his second ATP Tour title — but he made life hard for himself.
The talented Latvian handed the first set to his American opponent with a double fault, but held his nerve to claim the second with a single break.
Gulbis then seemed to be storming to the title when he went 5-1 up in the third, but Fish won three games in a row and then earned a break point for 5-5.
Gulbis steadied himself though and claimed the game to seal the championship.
Published: August 1, 2011 04:00 AM