Miami Open 2015: It’s title No8 for super Serena Williams

Serena Williams thrashes Carla Suárez Navarro 6-2 6-0 to win her eighth title in Miami

Carla Suárez Navarro had nothing short of a mountain to climb when she took on one of the best women ever to play tennis, world No1 Serena Williams.

In four previous meetings, the petite No12, who was playing in her first Premier Mandatory final, had yet to win a match against Williams, had yet to win a set, had yet even to score more than five games in a match against the defending champion.

To add to the problem, Miami is as close to home as Williams gets, and that has shown in her results here: 17 wins in a row at Crandon Park and seven titles, and that aside from the 20 match winning streak Williams had put together since winning the WTA Championships at the end of 2014.

In Suarez Navarro’s favour was the confidence that comes from breaking new ground with every month that passes. The 26-year-old had already guaranteed her debut in the top 10 with wins over No22 seed Alize Cornet, No7 Agnieszka Radwanska No16 and former champion Venus Williams, and No10 Andrea Petkovic. She had, though, won only one title in her career, the International-level clay event in Oeiras last year.

Williams was, of course, the last woman in Miami to take things for granted: “She got to the final here, and she beat my sister, so obviously she’s doing great.”

Yet with two three-set blockbuster wins over Sabine Lisicki and Simona Halep under her belt, Williams had well and truly played herself into form—and had a day’s rest before the final. So did Suarez Navarro have the slightest chance of joining just seven other players, all of them former No1s, to beat both Williams sisters in one tournament?

Yes, it was a veritable mountain to climb—and would become ever more so with each minute that passed under the sweltering afternoon sun at Key Biscayne. Williams was focused, determined, aggressive but as cool and calm as could be.

She immediately set the tone with two serve-and-volley winners, a backhand winner and a love hold. Suarez Navarro began tightly, but did manage her own hold, and would have welcomed the sight of a couple of errors from Williams—though not the ace with which the American served out another hold.

Suarez Navarro held onto her serve once more but then she came under heavy pressure at 15-40, closed to deuce, but conceded the break at the third time of asking.

Already the attacking Williams had notched up 11 winners to just one from her opponent. The American fired forehand and backhands deep and wide, and wrong-footed the nimble Spaniard time and again. It was ruthless and relentless, and after another hold with an ace, Williams used her court-craft to open the court with a sliced backhand and finish the point with a running forehand cross-court winner.

Suarez Navarro resisted two more break points but not a third, courtesy of stretch volley finish from Williams, and the set was sealed with a break, 6-2, in 31 minutes.

The statistics said it all: Williams had not dropped a point in 12 first serves and had hit 16 winners to a single winner from Suarez Navarro. The mountain just got higher.

Williams opened serve again, and a glimmer of a chance, the Spaniard’s only break point, appeared in the first game. Three aces later and the chance was snuffed out, never to be repeated. Williams broke to love, then held to love with her 11th consecutive point, and Suarez Navarro’s head dropped. She could not get her deft shot-making and varied angles into play, was quite simply overpowered and outmanoeuvred.

Two more breaks, and Williams put the Spaniard out of her misery with one last forehand bullet, her 27th winner of the match, 6-0, in four minutes short of the hour. She had allowed Suarez Navarro just three winners and 30 percent of the points in the match, and only five points in the second set: one could only feel sympathy for the Spaniard.

The victory is Williams’ eighth in Miami, and takes her streak to 21 wins—equal to the third-best winning run of her career. And in this kind of form, it is entirely possible that her streak will continue onto the clay. She has, after all, won Rome for the last two years, as well as Madrid and Roland Garros in 2013.

For now, though, she can simply relish this victory with her home fans, though she made sure to mention her father, who has been absent in Miami this week: “I would love to dedicate this to my dad. He’s not here. I miss him. I hope he’s watching. I love you daddy—this one’s for you.”

She also had generous words for her opponent: “Congratulations to Carla. She’s had a fabulous two weeks. This is just the beginning. I’m really proud of you. We always get along and it’s always great to see you do well.”

It is indeed: the Spanish woman may be small in stature but she is big in heart and talent. Few other women could have survived her tough draw with such craft and tactical smartness: She is a worthy addition to the top 10. But the gap between her and the mighty Serena is—well, the size of a mountain.

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