LOS ANGELES — Qualifier Carsten Ball reached his first ATP Tour final on Saturday by beating Leonardo Mayer 7-5, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals of the L.A. Tennis Open.

Ball will play in Sunday’s final against the winner of the late match between top-seeded Tommy Haas and sixth-seeded Sam Querrey.

“It’s only a bonus to be in the final, win or lose,” Ball said. “To be able to play in an ATP Tour tournament on a Sunday is what we all work for.”

It was the first meeting between Ball and Mayer, 22-year-olds who were both playing in their first ATP semifinal.

Ball almost withdrew from the tournament after tweaking his back in the first round of qualifying.

But the trainer worked on the injury and Ball felt better each match he played.

“I’ve definitely pulled it together mentally this week,” he said. “I’ve taken my time, and a little confidence and self-belief goes a long way.”

Born in Newport Beach, Calif., Ball is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia. His father is former Aussie pro Syd Ball, who played in the Australian Open doubles final in 1974.

By reaching Sunday’s final, Ball achieved a career-high ranking of No. 146.

He hasn’t played either Haas, the 2004 and 2006 champion, or Querrey on the tour.

Venus Williams an easy winner

STANFORD, Calif. — Second-seeded Venus Williams was at the top of her game as she advanced to the finals of the Bank of the West Classic, beating third-seeded Elena Dementieva 6-0, 6-1 on Saturday in a match that lasted just over an hour.

“I felt like everything went well for me,” Williams said in a prepared statement as she got ready for her doubles match, which immediately followed, with her sister Serena. “I was able to raise my level at the important parts. My plan is to try and keep this level for the rest of the tournament.”

The third-ranked Williams will be seeking her third title at Stanford in her first appearance since 2005. Dementieva, ranked fourth in the world, reached her seventh semifinal of the season.

Williams beat Dementieva for the sixth consecutive time and improved to 9-2 against her.

“I don’t have good statistics against Venus,” Dementieva said. “She was playing too good for me. She was powerful on the baseline and had a solid first serve. She didn’t give me much of a chance. I might have been able to win a few more points, but not the match.”

Dementieva had three winners and 19 unforced errors in the match.

“My percentage of first serves were low and that gave her a chance to attack me. I did not put any pressure on her with my serve. She was playing solid and looked confident on the court.”

Williams, who won for the 10th time in 11 matches, plays the winner of a later match between Marion Bartoli and Samantha Stosur for the title.


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