The Sony Ericsson Championships (SEC) was the eleventh encounter in a final for the Williams sisters. Serena came out on top for the eighth time in beating defending champ Venus 6-2, 7-6. For Serena, this was her first SEC title since 2001.
Having already secured the year end number one ranking with an injured Dinara Safina pulling out of her opening round robin match; for Serena, there was still a tremendous monetary incentive. Not only is this a prestigious title, Serena would bank a great bonus if she were to stay undefeated.
With both sisters sporting right leg wraps, the opening games were short as Serena aimed for outright winners. After Venus saved a couple of break points her initial game, with strong forehand returns, Serena got Venus to cough up the errors for the break. Then, Serena consolidated without any drama for a 3-1 lead. Subsequently with Venus serving at 2-4, with forehand crosscourt and overhead winners, Serena had triple break point. When Venus double faulted, Serena had a double break edge and finished the set with an exemplary service game.
Although the level of play picked up in the second set, Serena always appeared the better player. Serena carried her first two service games at love while Venus struggled repeatedly with her forehand stroke. Serving at 4 all and 40-0, Venus made three consecutive errors for deuce. Eventually though, Venus held to stay in front 5-4. After surrendering only the second point in the second set for 40-15, Serena produce a forehand crosscourt winner pushing the set to a tiebreaker. With Venus misfiring on a lob, Serena took a mini-break advantage from the first point. After Serena bombed a couple of serves to readily hold, Venus double faulted on a second serve thereby giving Serena a 4-1 lead. Although Venus crept closer at 4-5, with the match on her racket, Serena threw in an ace and a forehand crosscourt winner to seal the championship.
The week belonged to Serena. She commenced by out muscling Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first match of round robin play. After Venus had a victory slip away against Elena Dementieva, Serena took her older sibling the distance. Serena even erased match point to win. Moreover, in the third match, Serena dominated Dementieva. Venus advanced to the semifinals by virtue of a single win over Kuznetsova, only the second time that this had occurred in tournament history.
Injury was also the headline of the week. In the white group, in addition to Safina, Victoria Azarenka one game from the semifinals and alternate Vera Zvonareva went down in round robin play while Caroline Wozniacki retired in the semifinals. With the top players now officially on vacation, let’s hope they can recover and return refreshed in the upcoming season.