Originally created 05/21/05

Venus Williams gains Istanbul final

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Top-seeded Venus Williams beat Bulgaria's Tszvetana Pironkova 6-1, 6-3 Friday despite numerous errors on a windy day to reach the Istanbul Cup final.

She will play for the title Saturday against Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic. Vaidisova, seeded second, defeated third-seeded Anna Smashnova of Israel 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 in the other semifinal.

The $200,000 clay-court tournament is a tuneup for the French Open, which begins Monday.

Williams said the ball was hard to judge because of the strong wind. Both players repeatedly tossed the ball in the air and let it drop without serving. Some of Williams' serves exceeded 105 mph.

"It was definitely a different challenge and sometimes it made you look a little bit strange and maybe not exactly like a professional tennis player," she said. "But it was actually a lot of fun."

Williams said she didn't know what to expect from her opponent.

"I started making too many errors," she said. "But I felt as long as I was controlling the errors, I was going to control the points. But she was good. Sometimes her serves were weak, sometimes they were faster, so I had to be ready."


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