Birthday girl Serena wins China Open
Happy Birthday Serena Williams: the top seed battled back from championship point down at 4-5 in the second set to capture her 26th career crown in a gritty 4-6 7-5 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian U.S. Open champion on a 15-match streak, in
A questionable call cost Williams the first set and she showed her frustration by smashing her racket into her seat, having seen five break points go the way of her 19-year-old opponent.
As Williams struggled to stem the flow of unforced errors in the second set, Kuznetsova earned a match point in a close tenth game; but missed her chance with a stray backhand wide.
"I think the key to victory today was I never gave up. I really didn't want to lose today," said Williams, wearing a bright orange T-shirt saying: "The ball was in".
The reference was to her U.S. Open quarter-final defeat to Jennifer Capriati during which umpire Mariana Alves called "advantage Capriati" after Williams hit a backhand winner.
"I had many chances in the second set and sometimes she served well and there's nothing you can do," Kuznetsova said.
Kuznetsova looked deflated early in the third set while 23-year-old Williams stayed strong to race into a 4-0 lead. Although the Russian second seed fought back to 5-4, Williams took the title with two big serves.
Williams noted that many aspects of her game need work but said she was happy to taste victory after a long drought.
"I'm excited because I haven't won a title since March and that's not like me."