AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Venus Williams fell short in her attempt to capture her first title in more than a year, losing to Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the final of the ASB Classic on Saturday.
Second-seeded Ivanovic looked headed for a routine victory in the matchup between former world No. 1s, winning the first set in 35 minutes and holding match point at 5-3 in the second. But Williams fought back to break Ivanovic twice to capture the second set and force a decider.
Williams opened the third set with two double faults to drop serve, however, and played under pressure the remainder of the match. She held two break points in the final game before Ivanovic won four straight points to close out the match.
Williams was playing in her first final since winning her 44th career title at Luxembourg in October 2012. The seven-time Grand Slam champion's ranking has fallen to 47th as she has battled injuries and Sjogren's syndrome, a fatigue-causing autoimmune disease, over the past two years.
Williams had an 8-1 record against Ivanovic heading into the match, with the Serb's only win coming at the 2008 Australian Open.