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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title

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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title


IMG_9003_SerenaBy choosing South Florida as her base and lifting the trophy on seven prior occasions, the Miami Open is Serena Williams’ home. Consequently, this afternoon, first time finalist Carla Suarez Navarro needed to play the match of her career to steal the title from the two time defending champion. Williams romped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 for a third successive Miami Open trophy, her eighth overall.

After coasting through the early stages, Serena averted close calls in the quarterfinals and semifinals. First, Williams fought off Sabine Lisicki 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, the player who ended her bid as defending champion for a sixth Wimbledon prize in 2013.

Next up, the world number one clashed with Simona Halep, the 2015 titlist at Indian Wells. Ironically, the Romanian received a walkover into the final from Williams at that event because of an inflamed knee. A match fit Serena battled herself, her opponent and the Romanian partisans but eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

The opening game was a glimpse of how the proceedings would unfold as Serena held at love. For a short time, Suarez Navarro managed to keep up and in the fifth game was at 30-30. However, with two aces, Serena moved ahead 3-2.

After the Spaniard dismissed double break point, Serena provoked a few errors and capitalized on her third break point. The American easily consolidated for 5-2. With another break, 17 winners, 8 unforced errors and in just 32 minutes, Williams secured the set.

Prior to the second set, Suarez Navarro conferred with her coach. His advice was to “change the rhythm, serve better, get the shots deeper”. Consequently, the first game of the second set, the Spaniard arrived at break point. But, with an ace, Serena dismissed the sole break point she stared at the entire match. Swiftly, Suarez Navarro surrendered the next game. The Spaniard won only two more points in the remainder of the match.

Suarez Navarro has yet to capture a set from the world number one in their five meetings. Moreover, this was Serena‘s fifth love set.

There were mixed feelings for Suarez Navarro after she shocked Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, then dispatched world number nine Andrea Petkovic to advance to the biggest final of her career, at one of only four mandatory premier tournaments.

The 26 year old expressed “ I came into the final with the firm belief that she could win.. . It was difficult to compete with her, I tried to be solid, however, with her strength it proved to be impossible.”

Still, Suarez Navarro affirms that “Serena is not unbeatable, she has more experience and success. People are aware that she beatable. But you have to play at a high level. My plan is keep believing and to work hard.”

Despite the score, Suarez Navarro attested that “ I enjoyed the tournament. it’s worth the pain, I fought till the end, you learn from these moments”. For her efforts, when the rankings are released, Suarez Navarro will be rewarded with the number 10 spot. Furthermore, she is the first Spanish female in the top ten since Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Every time Serena step on the court, she climbs a new benchmark. This week, she joined the exclusive 700 wins club, only the eighth female player to reach that mark.

In 2013, she surpassed Steffi Graf‘s all time record of five trophies at the Miami Open. Following her tenth final at the Miami Open, with losses only to Venus in 1999 and Victoria Azarenka in 2009, Serena cited “it feels really good to have eight under my belt. Can’t say I thought I would win, especially at the beginning of the week. . .each one is special. Some finals are long; some finals have been shorter. At the end, each one is a lot of hard work. ”

Yet, Williams’ celebration was muted “I was so focused out there today. When you’re winning 5-Love, 40-Love, it’s not a surprise. . .you’ve kind of accepted that you’re going to win . . . It’s different if it’s 5-All or 7-5. You don’t know which way it’s going to turn.”

Serena is only the fourth WTA competitors to bank the same title at least eight times. Will she be aiming for twelve at the Miami Open? Martina Navratilova won Chicago that many times “I hope not. Because I would still be here  I would be how old? Let’s pray that I don’t get to 12.”

With her 66th career prize, Serena is one title away from knotting Billie Jean King at number six on the roll call. Serena’s goal for the clay season “ I just want to stay consistent and get a little more fit. . . you have longer matches. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking to have fun.”

By collecting her 19th major at the Australian Open, Serena is for the sixth time in a position to pull off the calendar grand slam. Furthermore, Jennifer Capriati was the last person to hold both the French and Australian in 2001 “I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve never done it. . .I don’t think it’s necessarily tough. I just think that sometimes the tournament’s hard and you fall at the wrong time.”

For now, Serena will relish her recent triumph in Miami. Who knows one day instead of stadium court, it will be Serena Williams Stadium.

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Serena captures a record-setting seventh Sony Open title

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Serena captures a record-setting seventh Sony Open title


IMG_8162_Serena(March 29, 2014) Serena Williams came back from a 2-5 deficit in the first set to win 11 of the next 12 game to close out Li Na 7-5, 6-1 to claim a record-setting seventh Sony Open title on Saturday.

This marks Williams’ 59th title of her career, 14 more than any other currently active player on the WTA Tour and the seventh most in history.

Williams came out sluggish in the first set going down two breaks to Li to trail 2-5. Li served for the set twice and had one set point which Williams overcame.

“I don’t think I was play(ing) bad,” Li said. “Maybe she just start a little bit better after 5‑2 down.”

“Sometimes I do get off to a slow start, but then again, sometimes I get off to a fast start,” Williams said.

“I just remember being down. She was playing so well, and at that point I just was trying to just stay focused and stay in the game.

“Then I remember really ‑‑ some of the crowd was so intense. I thought, Wow, they really want to see a good match, I’ve got to try harder, I’ve got to do better.

“That really helped me a lot.”

“I really thought I could do better at this point,” Williams explained. “My serve, percentage was super, super low, I think in the 30s, and I thought, Okay, I can serve a little better, and I know I can return better, and I’m practicing all these years and I have a good return. I need to start doing it. I need to start doing what I practice.

“And no joke. So many people in the crowd were saying, Come on, Serena. That was such a great feeling for me. I really definitely think the crowd got me through this match.”

During the trophy ceremony, the two 32-year-old veterans shared a laugh on the podium.

“I just feel that both she and I, we just have this never‑give‑up fight, and it just goes to show that, you know, you can still shine at any age.” Williams commented.

“We were talking about for sure before the match they say, Oh, two old women come to the final,” Li said with a smile.

“Yeah, because a little bit laughing about our age.”

“I was so happy for her and us and how we were doing,” Williams said.

“We’re playing great tennis and we’re both 1 and 2 and, you know, we’re both the same age.

“For me, it was just an honor to be there with her. We have had ‑‑ we are living the same life, and at this stage, to be on top, I don’t think it’s been done before and I think it’s really awesome.

“I definitely feel like she deserved praise. Especially winning the Australian was great.”

Williams is the oldest player, at 32 years and six months, to win the Miami title; Chris Evert (in 1986) is the only other player to have won the title after their 30th birthday.

Williams is the fourth player, after Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, in the Open Era to win the same tournament seven or more times.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Sharapova Battles Her Way into the Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Sharapova Battles Her Way into the Sony Ericsson Open Final




Andrea Petkovic was gunning for another former world number one in order to advance to the Sony Ericsson Open final. However, Maria Sharapova was uncooperative. After dropping the first set in the semifinals, Sharapova dispatched Petkovic 3-6,6-0,6-2.

After Petkovic and Sharapova traded breaks to start the match, Petkovic took control of the first set by breaking and consolidating for 5-2.

In the second set though, Sharapova turned the tables on Petkovic. After Sharapova fought off a break point and had four deuces to hold in the initial game, she seized the break for 2-0.

Subsequently, Sharapova sponged over a break point to get to 3-0. Later, in a game that Petkovic seemed to be in command of, Sharapova manufactured break point to go up 4-0.

Ultimately, on the fourth break point opportunity, Sharapova banked the second set to force a decisive third.

The concluding set was more of the same. An aggressive Sharapova did not allow Petkovic to breathe. Following an swift first game, Sharapova had triple break point. The Russian capitalized with a forehand up the line winner.

With another quick game, Sharapova had a 3-0 lead. When Petkovic sent another backhand out of play, Sharapova had double break point. With another winner, Sharapova sprinted to a 4-0 advantage.

Petkovic mounted a mini charge in breaking Sharapova the first time she served for the match. But, Sharapova reasserted her supremacy by stealing Petkovic’s next game and punched her ticket into the final.

Petkovic was attempting to reach her second final of the year, she was a finalist in Brisbane. Petkovic was the first German in the semifinals in Miami since Steffi Graf in 1999. Moreover, Petkovic was trying to become only the second German to compete for the title.

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Petkovic Pulls the Plug on Wozniacki at the Sony Ericsson Open

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Petkovic Pulls the Plug on Wozniacki at the Sony Ericsson Open



The first time Andrea Petkovic battled a world number one it was in Rome in 2010. On that occasion, the German came out on the losing end. This time around, the 23 year old also ranked 23rd was not intimidated by her opponent’s ranking. Petkovic stunned Caroline Wozniacki to clinch her first quarterfinal berth at the Sony Ericsson Open.

Wozniacki’s intent was to advance to her third straight quarterfinal at this tournament. Also, the Dane was trying to become the third player to win back to back titles in Indian Wells and Miami; an accomplishment posted only by Steffi Graf and Kim Clijsters.

The first set could have been decided by the flip of a coin. However, it was Petkovic breaking for a 6-5 advantage and on her second set point producing the ace to wrap it up.

In the second set, Wozniacki capitalized on triple break point when Petkovic dumped a forehand into the net and moved in front 2-0.

Yet, when Wozniacki double faulted, Petkovic obtained triple break point. Despite getting to deuce, Wozniacki gave the German one more chance which she seized. Petkovic eventually consolidated for 2 all after wiping out triple break point.

Later on, with a backhand volley, Wozniacki arrived at double break point. She converted for 5-3 and with a love game sealed the second set.

In the deciding set, with a backhand crosscourt winner, Petkovic had break point. The German captured the game for a 2-0 lead. However, Wozniacki with a forehand volley winner promptly broke back.

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