Serena Williams ended her 2012 in the very best possible way capturing the WTA Championship title yesterday defeating Maria Sharapova 64, 63. Her 9th straight win over her Russian rival gives Serena a third year-end title and a No. 3 ranking finish.
While Serena didn’t earn enough points to end the year No. 1, there’s no mistaking who’s been the best in women’s tennis of late.
Since a shock French Open loss to Virginie Razzano, Serena’s won 47 of her last 49 matches. Along the way she’s won Wimbledon, Olympic gold, the US Open and now Istanbul without dropping a set. The season rivaled her best from 2002 when she won a bulk of her “Serena Slam”.
“I think it’s been a great season,” she said comparing to 2002. “I was asked that on the court. I have to say number two only because I didn’t have two Grand Slams in the beginning. I faltered in the French and fell in the first round. I beat my record for 2002 matchβwise, but, yeah, I didn’t do so well at the French obviously or in Australia. But it’s close. It’s neck and neck, really neck and neck.”
With her terrific results, Serena really wanted to validate her season with a perfect finish. And she did.
“I had such a good year winning Wimbledon and US Open and stuff, Olympics, you know, it’s like a heavy favorite going in to win this title, so for me it was really important,” Serena said. “For my own sanity, so to say, I really wanted it, even though I didn’t need it. Like I don’t think I needed to do anything else this year or any other year, but I really wanted to end on a good note.”
Serena’s big change during the year was to begin working with new coach Patrick Mouratoglou during the clay season. While there have been whispers of a more romantic relationship with Patrick or Patrick’s understudy Grigor Dimitrov, there’s no denying the partnership is paying off.
“It’s been an incredible run. I really love working with Patrick,” Serena said. “He’s been really, really positive and really awesome. And I hate to lose. I think I went back to the drawing board. After Wimbledon my first few matches I was really, really tight, and I had a really great talk with my sister Isha who encouraged me a lot. I got better after that. So I think it was a lot of factors that really helped me to be able to get better.”
The next big test for Serena who finishes No. 3 is the Australian Open which she’s won five times.
“I’ll probably be one of the favorites, but, I mean, you can never underestimate Victoria or Maria or so many other players, like Kvitova, who’s doing really well,” Serena said about Melbourne. “There are a lot of other young players that are playing really well. It’s one thing to be a favorite, but it’s another thing to show up and show the reason why you’re the favorite.”
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