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Venus Williams upset in Stanford final by Bartoli

Venus Williams was upset by Marion Bartoli 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in the final of the Bank of the West Classic yesterday 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 and will likely move up two places into 12th when the next world rankings are released. Williams is expected to remain third.

"Venus is one of the greatest champions ever," Bartoli said. "That's what I practice for, to play her. To beat her is even better."

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

"It would be zero degrees outside and we'd sweep off the snow just to practice," said Bartoli, who earned $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 31-8 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.

Bartoli improved to 32-13 in winning for the seventh time in eight matches. She's 3-4 against the top 10 this year.

Bartoli, who won her second tournament of the year, lost to Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final, the only previous meeting between the players.

"I'm more experienced since that Wimbledon final," Bartoli said. "I've grown a lot and know what to do on big points. I've improved my movement a lot. I can run a lot and I wanted to make Venus play one extra shot on every point."

Bartoli appeared calm as she landed two consecutive aces to win her second title of the year and the fifth of her career.

Bartoli won the match despite Williams recording 54 winners to her 18. Williams also had eight aces and committed 12 double faults.

Williams, who has not won an outdoor US hardcourt tournament in seven years, looked like she was ready to make a rally after erasing a 4-2 deficit in the second set. But Bartoli broke on the first game of the third set and hung on for the win.


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