Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Serena makes winning look easy, says it isn't

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TORONTO -- Serena Williams insists it's not as easy as it looks.

The top-seeded American breezed to her third Rogers Cup title with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea in Sunday's final, giving Williams her eighth WTA title of the year and 54th of her career.

She didn't drop a set all week at the $2.369-million tournament and lost only 22 games, almost half of which came against third-seed Agnieszka Radwanska in a semifinal match which proved to be the only real test for the world No. 1 in Toronto.

With the absence of top-five players Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, and the early exit of Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli, all due to injury, Williams's path to the title was made considerably less obstructed.

But with expectation comes pressure, and Williams proved more than up to the task.

"No tournament is ever easy, especially being in the position I am in," said Williams. "The tournament starts and they expect you to win. And the tournament is like, 'you're going to be in the final and after your semifinal I want you to do this, and you have to do this and this press.' Who knows if I'll even make it to the semifinals?

"It's a lot of pressure. It's not easy."

Williams says she likes where her game it as heading towards the U.S Open, where she is the defending champion, and she'll look to use this victory as momentum this week in Cincinnati. Despite only having lost one match since March, a stunning early exit at Wimbledon, Williams says there's still room for improvement.

"For me it's always about constantly improving and never saying 'I did great and I can be satisfied,"' she said. "I did great (today), but what can I do better? What can I improve on? That's what I always strive for.

"When I get satisfied, and for a lot of players, the (playing) level goes down."

Cirstea, meanwhile, had a breakthrough tournament, having ousted two former world No. 1s in Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki before dethroning defending champion Petra Kvitova in the quarters, then fourth-seed Li Na of China in the semifinals.

She was appearing in only her third WTA final and looking to build on her only title, won way back in 2008 at Tashkent.

"For me it's been a really positive week and I'm going to take everything that well to the next tournament," said Cirstea.

Cirstea showed her nerves from the opening game, double faulting the first point and again at 30-40 to give Williams an early break.

Williams broke again for 3-0 after Cirstea sent a backhand wide. That prompted a visit from her Australian coach Darren Cahill, who gave the 23-year-old a pep talk.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 12, 2013 C2

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