ISTANBUL — Her year filled with titles and trophies over, Serena Williams can at last admit it: This was a title she had her eye on.
Not that any more evidence of her all-consuming, powerful game was needed, but Williams gave it anyway. She dismissed Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 Sunday to win the WTA Championships for the third time and finish the year with another title, but not the top ranking.
“Now that I can be honest, I really wanted to win,” Williams said. “I wanted it so bad, but I didn’t want to say it. … It was really important for me to end the year with this title in particular.”
Williams ended the year with a 59-4 record and seven titles. Since her first-round loss at the French Open, she is 31-1, winning Wimbledon, the Olympic gold medal and the U.S. Open.
The 31-year-old Williams became the oldest player to capture the year-end championships. But she will finish the year ranked No. 3, behind No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and No. 2 Sharapova, because she did not play as well in the first half of the year. Azarenka lost to Sharapova in the semifinals.
“I had such a good year, it was important to end on a good note,” Williams said. “It was good for my sanity to win. I really wanted it although I didn’t need it.”
In 2001 and ‘09 Williams also won the elite, year-end tournament that brings together the world’s top eight players.
SWISS INDOORS: In Basel, Switzerland, Juan Martin del Potro won the title, beating hometown favorite Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3) in the final.
Del Potro showed an impressive all-around game to help avenge a heartbreaking loss to Federer in the Olympic semifinals at Wimbledon in August.
“It was an unbelievable final,” said Del Potro. “You can’t wait, you have to go to (get) the victory.”
Federer, who won the event in five of the past six years, was seeking his 77th career title to tie John McEnroe at fourth on the Open Era list.
“I didn’t play a good tiebreaker in the third and that was the story of the match,” said Federer, offering generous praise to his opponent who won the 2009 U.S. Open then sustained a serious wrist injury. “I definitely think he is right there again.”
Federer later pulled out of his defense of the Paris Masters, which starts Monday, to rest and prepare for the ATP World Tour Finals in London the following week.
“It’s the only right decision for me right now,” the 31-year-old Federer said. “I had some niggling stuff and I didn’t want to take a chance.”
Del Potro ended a six-match losing streak against the top-ranked Swiss this year, which included a five-set defeat at the French Open.
VALENCIA OPEN: In Valencia, Spain, David Ferrer won the title for the third time, beating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.