HONG KONG (AFP) - Five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams ended a patchy week in Hong Kong on a high note as she won her last competitive match ahead of the season's first Grand Slam in Melbourne.
The 30-year-old has struggled at the exhibition World Team Challenge, losing in straight sets this week to Chinese ace Li Na and Russian world number two Vera Zvonareva—both rivals in the Australian Open starting January 17.
But she looked more relaxed on Saturday as she and Team Americas partner John McEnroe dismissed an Asia Pacific doubles team of Mark Philippoussis and Hong Kong's Zhang Ling 6-2, 7-6, going on to win the consolation silver group final on a "golden match tie break".
The Americans, playing together for the first time, won an early service break and never looked back, dominating the rallies and serving out for the first set in a little over 25 minutes on a gusty Victoria Park centre court.
All eyes are on Williams' fitness going to Melbourne after she suffered a nagging left knee injury last year and was forced into a long lay-off.
The seven-time Grand Slam winner was able get her serve volley game going, although her performance was still marred by some of the unforced errors which had seen her lose her singles rubbers.
The Hong Kong exhibition, which ends Saturday, features four three-player teams representing Europe, Russia, the Americas and Asia Pacific, with winning semi-finalists Europe and Russia vying for the gold group championship later Saturday.
US world number 61 Melanie Oudin dismissed Zhang in straight sets on Friday to put the Americas into the lead in the silver group final.
But Team Asia Pacific nudged ahead through Li Na's singles victory over Williams and Philippoussis serving seven-time Grand Slam champion McEnroe off the court to take the "legends" rubber 6-4, 6-4.
Danish world number one Caroline Wozniacki was due to play number two Vera Zvonareva later in a mouth-watering encounter as Europe and Russia battle for gold.