Auckland, New Zealand (SportsNetwork.com) - Ana Ivanovic defeated Venus Williams in the final of the season-opening ASB Classic tennis event, a hardcourt Australian Open tune-up.
The second-seeded Ivanovic outlasted Williams, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4, to notch her 12th career WTA title. The Serb fired five aces and saved 8-of-10 break points.
"It's amazing," said Ivanovic. "Coming into this week I didn't really have any expectations. I didn't even think about making the final or winning it. I just tried my best, and I felt very comfortable here."
Ivanovic appeared to be in complete control Saturday, winning five straight games in the first set, and was ahead 5-3 in the second with a match point. Williams, though, saved it and won the next four to force a third set.
The American had a chance to continue the momentum to start the third, but Ivanovic broke at love and held the rest of the way to earn her first title since winning in Bali to close the 2011 season.
"Venus is always very tough," Ivanovic remarked. "She's a great champion and showed that again today. I'm just happy that after losing that second set I managed to stay calm and close it out."
Williams was trying for her 45th championship and fell to 44-28 in finals. She hasn't won since 2012 in Luxembourg.
"Today for me it was all about fighting, because I didn't feel I was playing my best," said Williams. "I fought as hard as I could no matter what the score was, but I just ran into a better player today."
Ivanovic claimed $43,000 with the win.