Venus is back to raising trophies!

It has been more than two years since Venus Williams won a WTA tournament, and a little over a year since she went public regarding her autoimmune disorder, Sjogren’s syndrome. On Sunday, she stood atop her Everest, overcoming the doubt and retirement speculation to win a 44th career singles title in Luxembourg over Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-2, 6-3. Venus is now ranked #41 in the world, taking a win into the off-season, and riding momentum into 2013. She is beyond remarkable…

Meanwhile, in Moscow – speaking of “end of year comebacks” – longtime world #1 Caroline Wozniacki won a gritty 3-set final over Sam Stosur to take the Kremlin Cup 6-2, 4-6, 7-5. Rory McIlroy’s better-half won the match by breaking Stosur in the 12th-game of an evenly-matched final set, no doubt boosting her confidence and hopes for 2013 going into the off-season. Though she didn’t qualify for the WTA Championships in Turkey this week, Caroline could climb back into the top-10 with a solid performance next week at the WTA Tournament of Champions in Bulgaria. She’s currently ranked #11 in the world.

The guys also played in Moscow last week. Italy’s Andreas Seppi defeated Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3 in the men’s final, after facing two Bellucci match points in the second set! This has been Andreas’ best season on the ATP Tour – he now owns three titles – but keep your eye on the hard-serving Brazilian in 2013…he offered up 13 aces during the match.

Elsewhere, U.S. Open semifinalist Tomas Berdych won his 8th ATP title with a hard-fought win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Stockholm 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. With the win, Tomas qualified for the Barclays World Tour Finals in London come November…his third consecutive year. Currently, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer are the only other “locks” for the championship. After London, Tomas will return home to lead Team Czech Republic vs. Team Spain in the 2012 Davis Cup Final.

In Vienna, Juan Martin del Potro improved his odds of making the ATP World Tour Finals with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Grega Zemlja in the Vienna Open Final. That’s del Potro’s third title of the year (Marseille and Estoril) despite ongoing wrist injuries. He’s currently ranked 7th, just in front of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who hopes his showing in Stockholm will be enough to help the Frenchman round-out the 8-man field in London.

This week, the guys are playing in Roger Federer’s hometown of Basel, Switzerland and Valencia, Spain – where Monday, Lleyton Hewitt ousted ATP World Tour Finals hopeful Juan Monaco in the first round 6-3, 6-4. Currently ranked 12th on the tour, Juan’s chances of making the championship are now a long-shot.

The year-end WTA Championships are this week in Istanbul, Turkey featuring:

1. Victoria Azarenka
2. Maria Sharapova
3. Serena Williams
4. Agnieszka Radwanska
5. Angelique Kerber
6. Petra Kvitova
7. Sara Errani
8. Li Na

1. Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci
2. Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka
3. Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond
4. Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova

Play begins tomorrow evening at 5p in Instanbul with the Radwanska vs. Kvitova match.

So what else is happening ’round tennis?

  • Congrats to Bob and Mike Bryan – they just finished the year as the #1 doubles team in the world again…
  • Make sure to bring sunglasses to this Roddick vs. Murray exhibition down in Miami next year…they’ll be playing on white courts.
  • While the 2012 Fed Cup and Davis Cup Finals will be in Czech Republic, the 2013 schedule has been released and Team USA will take on Brazil at home in Jacksonville, Florida. Plan to meet us in the Sunshine State Super Bowl weekend, tennis heads!