Ana Ivanovic claimed her first WTA Tour title in more than two years when she completed a 6-2 5-7 6-4 victory over fellow former world number one Venus Williams to clinch the Auckland Classic on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Serbian had not won a title since she completed a 6-3 6-0 victory over Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues in Bali at the end of 2011. The former French Open champion, who had not beaten the 33-year old American since they met at the 2008 Australian Open, had romped through the match until she was serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set when Williams seemingly came alive.
The tall American, who had been given a walkover to the final after her compatriot Jamie Hampton was forced to withdraw from their semi-final after suffering a right hip injury, broke back and then held to take a 6-5 lead before she broke again to send it into a deciding third set. Ivanovic, who had two match points earlier in the second set, broke in the first game of the third set and never relinquished that advantage.
She virtually assured herself of the title in the eighth game when she served successive aces and fought back from two break points and sealed the win in the 10th when Williams blasted a forehand long to give herself a major confidence boost ahead of the Australian Open. The first major of the year starts in Melbourne on January 13.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)