Was anyone not smiling along with Venus Williams when she won the Dubai title today? Now a three-time champion at the event, Williams beat Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-0 to win the final. The match was better than the scoreline indicates, and would have been even better if Cornet had taken better control of her emotions (some things just don't change).
This is the first premier tournament that Williams has won since 2010, and is therefore a milestone in her career, which was all but taken away from her by Sjogren's syndrome (and by the multiple doctors who were apparently too ignorant to make the diagnosis). Since returning from time off to learn how to manage the disorder, the five-time Wimbledon and two-time U.S. Open champion has had to deal with fatigue, a major symptom of the syndrome, and with playing her way back into the upper level of the game. "Stepping into the unknown," she called the process.
And in a week of surprises, perhaps the most under-stated one is that the Dubai doubles champions are Alla Kudryavtseva and Anastasia Rodionova. The Russia/born-Russian team beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears 6-2, 5-7, 10-8 in today's final. Both teams were unseeded. Earlier in the tournament, the champions upset 2nd seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, and they also beat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Safarova.
Rodionova is a good doubles player who has played with various partners, including Kudryavtseva, over the last several years. This is her eighth WTA doubles title. She is currently ranked number 23 in the world in doubles. Kudryavtseva is ranked number 24. The Russian player has now won seven doubles titles.