The two most popular female athletes on the planet met earlier today in Miami and for the 11th straight time Serena Williams got the better of Maria Sharapova, dashing her rival 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. The victory was Serena 48th of her career and a record sixth in Miami.
“In the beginning of the week or start of the tournament,” Serena said. “I definitely didn’t feel like I would be here, not with the way I was playing. But, you know, it definitely feels good to go through everything.
“It’s definitely not my best tournament. I think everyone here can agree. But those are the moments that count is when you can go and do the best you can and still come out on top and always try to improve.”
But early on in this showdown between No. 1 and No. 2, it was all Sharapova. Playing some of the best tennis I’ve seen from her, Sharapova hung toe-to-toe from the baseline with the more powerful Williams. And really, Maria was the aggressor, moving Serena on a string around the court and connecting cleanly on her on shots.
“Maria played really the best I have seen her play, and I think she was moving unbelievable and she was hitting winners from everywhere,” Serena said.
Behind an array of big forehands and backhands, Maria snared the first set – her first against Serena in many years- then led the World No. 1 by a break and 3-2 in the second. But that’s when the match turned upside down.
We’ve seen Serena go down before and comeback, and here it was again. A couple of big groundies and like that Serena broke back for 3-3, and that would be as close as Maria would come again on this day to finally winning that elusive Miami title. In a snap it was over.
In runaway fashion, Serena won the final 10 games of the match to coast to another Miami title and once again showed who’s the real boss in women’s tennis.
“I just thought, I’ve just gotta get some energy out here,” Serena said. “It wasn’t my level. My energy was low, and I just wouldn’t have thought that I would have won that many games in a row, because she was playing really well.”
It’s hard to imagine her not being a favorite in just about every match she plays in the near future.
The 31-year-old Serena finished with 34 winners, 6 aces, was 7/7 on break chances and in that final set she only lost five points on serve.
Sharapova, who had played so well leading up to the match – she had won 11 in a row and 22 straight sets – now suffers yet another crushing loss to her arch enemy. Considering how close she came, it has to be a bitter pill for Sharapova to swallow heading into the clay season and her French Open title defense.
“I think today I certainly played a lot better,” Sharapova said. “I had my chances. There’s no reason why I couldn’t win the match today. I was playing, you know, well, not well enough to win the match, obviously, but it was a step in the right direction and there’s no doubt that we’ll be playing many more times. There’s no doubt I’ll be able to beat her.”
Meanwhile, for Serena, it’s on to Charleston which begins on Monday. And then back the Paris for a shot at redemption.
“Hopefully I can just keep winning matches on clay,” added Serena. “I love the clay. I’ll probably hit just a few tomorrow just to get sliding a little bit, because I have a match so soon. My goal is to win a match at Roland Garros this year.”
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