Venus Williams returns to top 10 in world tennis with triumph in Zhuhai
American beats Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) to win the WTA Elite Trophy
Top-seeded American Venus Williams beat Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) to win the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai on Sunday.
Pliskova had a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker but Williams hit back-to-back forehand winners to close out the win.
"Seven weeks here in Asia and now I feel like it's my home," Williams said. "I'm so excited to win the first trophy in Zhuhai. All the players felt so welcome here and we appreciated the enthusiasm."
With her third tournament title of the year, Williams returns to the top 10 of the women's world rankings for the first time in more than four years.
The Zhuhai tournament brought together 11 of the top players who were unable to qualify for last week's elite WTA Finals in Singapore.
Williams raced out to an early 4-1 lead in the first set but the third-seeded Pliskova fought back to 4-4 before Williams took the first set.
Pliskova found her game in the second set and went up 4-2 but Williams got back on serve and forced the tiebreaker.
"Even if I didn't make it today, it was a great week," Pliskova said. "Venus played an unbelievable match today. But I'm proud of how I played this week and hopefully we'll have more matches like this."
Williams, a seven-time grand slam winner and former top-ranked player, has enjoyed a return to form this year, winning also at Auckland and Wuhan.
It's the first time she's won three WTA titles in a season since 2008 and the 41 matches she's won are the most in a season since she won 50 contests in the 2007 campaign.
Williams' Asian swing included an appearance at the Prudential Hong Kong Open at Victoria Park last month, when she reached the semi-finals before losing 6-4, 7-5 to eventual winner Jelena Jankovic, of Serbia.