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August 4, 2009

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Triumphant Bartoli aiming for top 5

FRANCE'S Marion Bartoli was hoping to break into the world's top five after she upset seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams to win the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, California, on Sunday.

"If I keep playing like this ... I'll have a good chance to do well at the US Open and then keep the same level throughout the year, then I can be in the top five," said Bartoli, who will rise to No. 13 in the rankings.

The Stanford title was Bartoli's fifth overall, but the first time the 24-year-old has won a WTA premier level event and she said her success can be attributed to her improved physical condition and her maturity.

"I know what to do on the big points, I know what my strengths are, and I improved my weaknesses as well," she said.

"I've also improved my movement a lot and physically to be able to hang in there against these types of players it's important to me mentally.

"What makes me special is that I'm really mentally tough. To beat Venus means a lot to me and I know I can beat the best players when I'm on and focused. "

Bartoli won 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 for her first title on American soil. The eighth-seeded Bartoli, who lost in last year's final, played a steady match against the second-seeded Williams.

Bartoli recalled days of scraping away snow in her native France to practice tennis with her father and coach. Those t houghts made her victory all the more special.

Zero degrees

"It would be zero degrees outside and we'd sweep off the snow just to practice," said Bartoli, who earned US$107,000 for the win. "People would say I wouldn't be any good at tennis if I let my dad (Dr. Walter Bartoli) coach me. That was about the time Venus was just starting out and coached by her dad. She went to No. 1. That helped me develop mental toughness."

Her father still coaches her and has a unique form of motivation. "He told me before the week there's no way I would make the final," Bartoli said. "Today he said the only goal was to avoid losing 6-0, 6-1."

Williams, making her first appearance at the event since 2005, reached her seventh final in eight appearances at Stanford. She's won two titles and none since 2002.

"Marion played really well," Williams said. "I couldn't find my game. I was fighting myself a lot and I couldn't find the court. I'm not used to that."

Bartoli made an adjustment this season with her serve to get more power from her legs, and it helped keep Williams - who favors a strong baseline game - on her heels at times. "I have to give Marion credit," Williams said. "That's one of the best games she's played since I've seen her."

Williams fell to 8-31 on the season, with four of those losses to top-15 players. She lost for just the third time in her last 15 matches, after winning 14 straight earlier this season.

In Turkey, Vera Dushevina of Russia beat Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic in the Istanbul Cup final on Sunday to win her first WTA title.

The fifth-seeded Dushevina defeated No. 8 Hradecka, 6-0, 6-1 in 41 minutes. Dushevina's previous best result was reaching the Stockholm final in 2008.


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