WTA Sony Open: Serena Williams defeats Maria Sharapova in three sets in Miami
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 31/03/13 1:57pm
World No 1 Serena Williams became just the fourth woman in the modern era to win the same event six times time after defeating Maria Sharapova in three gruelling sets at the Sony Open.
The 15-time Grand Slam champion extended her winning streak over the Russian to 11 matches thanks to a 4-6 6-3 6-0 victory in Miami.
From a set and a break behind, Williams won ten games in a row and remained flawless on break-point conversions to eventually overpower her opponent and claim career title number 48.
For Sharapova, the Florida frustration continues as she lost her fifth final at Key Biscayne and her second in a row.
She made the better start though and claimed the first break-point of the contest in a marathon third game of the opening set.
But, Williams soon closed the door by drilling a crosscourt backhand winner before the top seed showed fleet of foot to save a further two breaks before eventually holding.
However, the Russian was proving a far greater threat and she soon produced a fourth break-point of the set in the fifth game to break Williams' resistance.
In a tug-of-war clash, the American immediately broke back after a couple of errors from her opponent. But in a crucial ninth game, Williams showed the Jekyll and Hyde side of her game by crashing down her third ace of the contest before serving a double fault on the very next point.
That allowed the four-time Grand Slam champion to take full advantage before she served out the next game to love. It was the first set Sharapova had won against her opponent in 14, with the last coming in Charleston back in 2008.
Williams soon came out firing in the second set and after a convincing hold, she broke the No 3 seed in the next game, but once again she lost her concentration to allow the 25-year-old to break straight back.
The pair traded breaks to love in the fifth and sixth games of what was proving to be a classic encounter with some breathtaking tennis between two of the highest profile players on the women's circuit.
And Williams kept up her 100 per cent conversion rate at break points by taking advantage of some weak play by Sharapova in the eighth game before holding her nerve to take the match to the distance.
Despite the bright sunshine and swirling wind, Williams moved up another level in the deciding set. She producing an array of unplayable shots to move 5-0 up in a real purple patch losing only 10 points before closing out the victory with a service winner, then was hopping, spinning, waving and grinning in jubilation.
Williams now joins Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova to have won the event six times and also becomes the oldest player to win the title at the age of 31 years and six months.