Serena, Djokovuc lift Toronto titles


TORONTO, Canada, August 15 – Serena Williams won the WTA Rogers Cup title Sunday, beating Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-2 to hammer home her credentials as a US Open favourite when the last Grand Slam event of the season starts in two weeks’ time.

Williams hammered nine aces and won 89 percent of her first serve points in beating the Australian in straight sets at the $2.05 million hardcourt tournament, two weeks after winning the Stanford title.

“Eight months ago if there was only one tournament I wanted to win, it was Toronto,” Williams said. “For whatever reason, I really wanted to win this event. Just going through so much and being able to win is even more amazing.”

It is her first back-to-back title in three years, the 39th of her career and 11th win in 11 matches on the US hardcourt swing this summer.

Williams, who turns 30 next month, is currently ranked 80th in the world and was competing in just her fourth tournament since being sidelined for a year by injuries and illness.

Her win over Stosur took just 77 minutes as she played six matches in six days in Toronto and served notice that she is returning to form just ahead of the 2011 US Open.

“I consider myself a favourite to just do what I can do best, if that means winning the US Open, obviously I want to,” she said. “I went through a lot of things physically and mentally and emotionally, and going through so much, I’m just taking it one day at a time and just going with it.”

Williams broke Stosur’s serve to go up 5-4 in the first set. She would break Stosur twice more in the second set before clinching the victory with a blistering ace.

Sunday’s victory was her biggest since winning her fourth Wimbledon crown in 2010.

She was injured shortly after capturing that Wimbledon title, cutting her foot in Germany on a piece of glass and underwent two operations.

She then spent 20 weeks in a cast and walking boot.

In February, she was diagnosed with blood clots in her lung, and didn’t start practising again until April.

Asked if she ever had any doubt during her long break whether she would be able to return to winning, Williams said, “Never. Never once. No.”

Williams is projected to rise to No. 31 in the world when the next rankings list comes out.

Toronto rapper Drake was in the crowd at Rexall Stadium to watch Williams who shot down speculation they are dating.

“Oh man, really?” Williams said. “So much speculation. It’s unbelievable. Shocking, really. It’s too much. It’s really too much. We’re really good friends. I guess you can’t be too close of a friend nowadays.”

Williams, who grew up in the crime-ridden, drug-plagued south Los Angeles suburb of Compton, also had her parents, including her dad and coach Richard, in the crowd.

Stosur, who is seeded 10th, was seeking her third career title.

Stosur, of Gold Coast, Queensland, lauded Williams for the way she has handled herself during the comeback.

“She makes it look very easy, and it’s not that easy to just come back on tour and win two events in your first four tournaments,” Stosur said. “I think she’s playing very well. To win a tournament like this, you have to be playing well.”

In the men’s event, Novak Djokovic says a small shoulder niggle which bothered him en route to a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 defeat of Mardy Fish to win the Montreal Masters won’t be a problem in next week’s final tune-up before the US Open.

The word number one Djokovic, winner of his ninth ATP title this season, admitted he had a small physical worry in Sunday’s final.

“Throughout this tournament I carried little problems with the shoulder. But it’s okay. Nothing major,” he said.

The Serb confirmed the world number one ranking which which he claimed after winning Wimbledon as he beat Fish for the seventh time without a loss.

Djokovic has now won nine titles in 2011. He stands a phenomenal 53-1 this season, with his only loss coming against Roger Federer in the French Open semi-finals.

“It was a close match, for sure,” Djokovic said. “A couple of points, one good return game in the third set, decided the winner.

“But it’s a final. You can somehow expect that the players are evenly matched and they both want to win the title badly.

“I knew that I had to fight for it. Up to the last moment, you didn’t really know who is going to win, but I believed I could do it. This was a big satisfaction.”

Djokovic becomes the first man to win five Masters 1000 titles in the same season having also claimed trophies at Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid and Rome.

The 24-year-old is the first player to win an ATP title in his debut as number one since Pete Sampras in Hong Kong in April 1993.

Djokovic now stands 27-13 in career finals while Fish, winner of the Atlanta title last month, was competing in his third straight final of the pre-US Open summer.

“Today I started off really well, I played a first set and couple of games better,” said Djokovic. “I did get tight in the end.

“It was an even match, he served well and he was moving well. I played one good return game in the third set, and it was enough.” Fish saved three match points in final game from Djokovic errors before the Serb triumphed on his fourth opportunity with a service winner after two hours, 23 minutes.

“This loss is really hard to take, just so much energy mentally and physically goes into going that far. I wanted it so badly – it hurts,” said Fish.

“I put myself in a lot of positions to have chances, I just didn’t execute on the big points.