FLORIANOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Top-seeded Venus Williams was upset by Olga Puchkova 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 at the Brazil Tennis Cup on Friday.
The 109th-ranked Russian will play in the final of the outdoor hard-court tournament in southern Brazil against Monica Niculescu of Romania, who defeated seventh-seeded Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-0, 6-2.
Puchkova broke Williams's serve late in the second and third sets to close out the match in 2 hours, 31 minutes, reaching her first final since 2006.
Williams broke Puchkova's serve at 5-4 to win the first set and was up 2-0 in the second.
However, she was not able to keep up with the 25-year-old Russian and was broken in the final game of each of the last two sets.
Visibly tired and taking her time after every point near the end, Williams gave up 18 break points and was broken six times throughout the match.
"I gave my best but just couldn't play consistent enough today," Williams said. "She played so well, it was hard."
The 20th-ranked American was playing in her first tournament since losing to Maria Sharapova in the third round of the Australian Open in January.
The 32-year-old Williams was trying to win her 45th singles title, and first since last October in Luxembourg. She hasn't made a final since then.