DOHA, Qatar — Defending champion Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Sunday, earning her 16th title and ending a 10-match losing streak against the American.
Azarenka will give up the No. 1 ranking to the second-ranked Williams on Monday but extended her current winning streak to 14 matches, which included her second Australian Open title. More importantly, she may have turned around what has been a one-sided rivalry against Williams. Azarenka had not beaten Williams since 2009 in Miami, and had a 1-11 record against the American going into Sunday’s final.
“It feels incredible,” Azarenka said. “You know, this tournament is really great. ... It had such a strong field going into it, and I’m really glad that in the end of the week I’m the one who’s holding the trophy.”
Williams had won her past eight finals. Still, she is returning to the No. 1 ranking for the first time in almost two and a half years. She becomes the oldest player to hold that title, breaking the mark previously held by Chris Evert, who was No. 1 in 1985 just shy of her 31st birthday.
“I’m definitely not happy, but I’m No. 1,” she said, smiling. “It was such a long journey, and after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the (WTA) Championships, I thought, I just don’t think I can win anymore. I don’t know what it takes to be No. 1. So it was awesome to come here and achieve that goal.”
BRAZIL OPEN: In Sao Paulo, Rafael Nadal beat David Nalbandian 6-2, 6-3 in the final Sunday, winning his first title since returning from a seven-month layoff to treat his left knee.
Nadal thrust his arms into the air and pumped his fist after a long ball by Nalbandian made him the champion of the indoor clay-court tournament for the second time.
The Spaniard also won the event in 2005.
“I’ll definitely enjoy this one because of all the problems that I’ve gone through with the knee,” he said. “When I won for the first time here I was just starting and hopefully this will mark a new beginning.”
It was Nadal’s 51st singles title, and first since winning the French Open for the seventh time last June.
The 93rd-ranked Nalbandian made his first appearance in a final since he was disqualified for kicking an advertisement board and injuring a line judge at Queen’s Club last June.
SAP OPEN: In San Jose, Calif., Milos Raonic won his third consecutive title at the event, beating Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3 for the title in the final year of the Bay Area tournament.
Raonic has never lost in 12 matches in this event and became the first player in the Open era that began in 1968 to win this tournament three consecutive times and first overall since Tony Trabert did it from 1953-55.
ABN AMRO WORLDS: In Rotterdam, Netherlands, Juan Martin Del Potro beat Julien Benneteau 7-6 (2), 6-3 in the final, going one better than his runner-up spot last year.