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Almagro, Venus capture titles

NICOLAS Almagro of Spain downed second-seeded Gael Monfils of France 6-4, 6-4 to defend his Mexican Open title in Acapulco on Saturday.

Fourth-seeded Almagro, ranked 21st in the world, earned his fifth career title after beating 10-ranked Monfils in 1 hour, 16 minutes.

In their previous encounter, Monfils eliminated Almagro 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in the third round of the Australian Open in January.

Earlier, top-seeded Venus Williams brushed aside defending champion Flavia Pennetta 6-1, 6-2 to win the women's title.

The 62-minute victory earned Williams her 41st career singles title and second in two weeks. She won in Dubai last weekend, where she became the only active player to win 40 titles.

Overall, the American has won four of her last five tournaments, including last year's WTA Championships, and 20 of her last 21 matches.

Making her debut on Acapulco's clay, she won three consecutive three-setters then lost only six games in her last two matches in extending her match-winning streak to 10.

"During the week I had very hard games, but luckily I produced my best game for my toughest opponent," Williams said.

She broke the second-seeded Pennetta four times in the final and saved the only break point she faced.

Pennetta was playing in her sixth successive final in Acapulco, but has won only in 2005 and 2008.

In Dubai, UAE, Novak Djokovic won his first title of the season on Saturday, beating David Ferrer of Spain 7-5, 6-3 in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The third-ranked Djokovic finished off Ferrer with an ace that was originally called out but challenged by the Serb.

"That was an unusual way to finish the match, and something like this has never happened to me before," top-seeded Djokovic said. "But what worked for me during the match was that I mixed the pace well, which I think, David does not like at all."


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