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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Tennis

Not playing her best, but good enough
First Published: 00:13 IST(1/4/2013)
Last Updated: 01:32 IST(1/4/2013)
Serena Williams wins the women's final of the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Reuters)

Serena Williams now stands alone as the woman with the most Sony Open championships after storming back to defeat Maria Sharapova, 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, in Saturday’s final. It was her sixth title in the event, one better than Steffi Graf. She solidified her world No. 1 ranking by winning the last 10 games after being broken in the fifth game of the second set.

A record
“It feels really good,” said Williams, who also extended her record for victories at this event to 61. “At the start of the tournament, I definitely didn’t feel like I would be here, not with the way I was playing. “I finally have some record. It’s really cool. I can’t seem to catch up with Margaret Court or Steffi, so I’m really happy to have something going right now.”

After she ended the match with a service winner, Williams did a pirouette at the net and waved to the capacity crowd of 13,859. She lives north of Crandon Park Tennis Center in Palm Beach Gardens and considers this her hometown event. Sharapova seemed poised to take home her first winner’s trophy in five finals appearances. But it was short-lived.

“That was pretty fast, but I thought I still had opportunities to get back in the set at 3-4,” Sharapova said. “I was up, 40-15 and love-30, in the next game, and then, you know, those are the games that you really need to keep challenging out there and keep being in them, because those are the chances that you will have to take if you want to win the match. But I certainly put myself in a much better position today.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/4/01_04_13-pg17a.jpg

If there was one troubling trend for Williams throughout these two weeks, it was her slow starts. She allowed herself to get into some deep holes, most notably in the quarterfinals against Li Na. She found herself in a similar situation against Sharapova.

Williams became the first top seed to win the Sony Open since she did it in 2004. She is 12-2 in her career against Sharapova and has won their last 11 meetings. Her last loss to Sharapova was in the 2004 WTA Tour Championships.

Williams has her sights set on a better performance at the end of May in the French Open. As much as she loves the clay, however, she acknowledged she preferred to play on grass because she serves better on that surface.


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