Maria Sharapova remained winless in three career Miami finals on Saturday after being out-hit and out-grunted by Belarus’ 21-year-old Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open.
In trying to amp-up her power baseline game, Sharapova committed 43 unforced errors and held serve only once.
Azarenka led 6-1, 4-0 before Sharapova finally rallied.
“It’s a bit too late to pick up the pace when you’re down a set and 4-0. I wish I picked it up earlier,” Sharapova said. “Against a player like her you have to have that level from the start or she’s going to go with it and only get better.”
The contest was tough on the ears as two of the WTA’s loudest shriekers vied for dominance.
“Maria is such a great fighter, I knew she was going to fight to the end,” Azarenka said. “She came up with great tennis at the end, and I had to hang in there. That’s what paid off.”
Azarenka claimed her second Miami title after beating Serena Williams in the 2009 final. Azarenka is projected to rise to a career-high No. 6 ranking. Sharapova is expected to return to the Top 10 for the first time in two years.
Sharapova also finished runner-up in Miami in 2005 (l. to Kim Clijsters) and 2006 (l. to Svetlana Kuznetsova).
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