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Saturday February 16, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:24:36 AM
DOHA: Serena Williams needs only one more win to become world No. 1 for the first time in two-and-a-half years after reaching the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in double quick time on Thursday.
It took the 15-time Grand Slam title winner less than an hour to complete a 6-0, 6-3 win over Urszula Radwanska, the world No. 37 from Poland, and to take herself to the brink of another remarkable achievement.
A year ago, after a series of injuries, Williams’ career seemed in danger.
Now, after triumphs at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Olympics, and struggling against ankle and back injuries and a cold this week, she is almost back to where many believe she deserves to be – at the top again.
Williams was not allowing her feelings to distract her, however, offering a smokescreen of anti-climactic words to avoid sharing premature pleasure with the crowd.
“Not really“, she said, when asked if she were thinking about becoming number one again. “I am so over it. It’s like everyone is thinking about it. I have a really tough opponent. It is what it is.”
Later, however, Williams’ mood altered a little. Asked what she thought of the prospect of becoming the oldest player to reach the top ranking again, she said: “It’s awesome. Since I didn’t do the youngest, I figure I’ll do the oldest.”
Earlier Victoria Azarenka, the current No. 1, made an impressive statement of her right still to be considered the best player when she overwhelmed America’s Christina McHale 6-0, 6-0.
“Everything was working for me today,” said Azarenka, the defending champion in Doha who also retained her Australian Open crown last month. “When I stepped on court I felt my game. When I had a couple of difficult games I stayed focused and took advantage of that, and that was the key.
“Christina has played some excellent matches and had some big wins and so I had to stay focused. I think I got rid of my frustrations (with the windy weather) yesterday.”
In another match, Agnieszka Radwanska advanced with a craftily constructed 6-1, 7-6 (8-6) win over Ana Ivanovic, the former French Open champion from Serbia.
Former world No. 1 from Denmark Caroline Wozniacki survived a fraught encounter by 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 against Mona Barthel on an even windier outside court on which the ball sometimes threatened to bounce over the back stop, and where line decisions had Wozniacki’s father-coach Piotr screaming at the umpire.
“It was all about somehow surviving out there,” said Wozniacki ruefully.
World No. 3 Maria Sharapova eased past Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 and will face Australian eighth seed Samantha Stosur, who saw off Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-5, for a place in the semi-finals. — AFP
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