Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki kicked off the 2015 season with a final-round battle in Auckland, New Zealand.
Through the first several years of the 2010s, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus had experienced some lean times—even starting 2014 ranked outside of the top 40. By the end of the year, though, the American—on the strength of a resurgent campaign that saw her snap a nearly two-season-long title drought—was back in the top 20 for the first time since 2010.
Starting off the 2015 season in Auckland, New Zealand, Venus advanced to the final for the second year in a row. Over her first four matches, Venus didn’t drop a set and only lost as many as four games in one twice. In the final, she’d face the top seed, Wozniacki. The world No. 8 was also in fine form, only dropping one set on her way to the championship round.
Having faced each other multiple times in the past, it was Venus that came out on top in all of their prior encounters. Having never dropped a set to her younger opponent, the American entered the final as a heavy favorite. However, in the first set, it was Wozniacki that came out dictating play as she took the opener 6-2.
In the second set, though, Venus began to shore up her game, cutting down on the unforced errors drawn out by Wozniacki’s impressive defense, and the third seed leveled the match behind a 6-3 scoreline. Continuing to apply the pressure in the deciding set, Venus gained an early break to stay in front. As Wozniacki served to stay in the match at 3-5, the American broke again to clinch the win and capture the 46th singles title of her career.
This was the first time in 38 career finals that Wozniacki reached a championship round in January.
The win marked only the third time in her career Venus won a singles title in Australia or New Zealand, after the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and the Gold Coast International in Brisbane in 2002.
The last time Venus was pushed to three sets in a final that she eventually won came in 2010, when she captured the Mexican Open on clay.