World No. 1 Serena Williams captured a record sixth Sony Open Tennis crown on Saturday, battling back from a set and a break down to defeat second-ranked Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 in Miami.
“I finally have some record. Like it's really cool,” Williams said. “I can't seem to catch up with Margaret Court or Steffi or [anyone]. I'm really happy to have something going right now, so it's exciting.”
Williams broke a tie with Steffi Graf for the most event titles and lifted the trophy at Crandon Park for the first time since 2008 (d. Jankovic). This was the third Miami final featuring the Top 2-ranked players on the WTA Tour (1985 and 2000). The American celebrated her 48th tour-level title, which leads all active players.
“I like to play anyone that's a top player,” said Williams. “As you can see today, I feel like she lifted her level, and any player makes me have to lift my level and be like, Okay, what can I do to win this? What can I do to get better? Can I get better? For me, that answer is always yes and figuring out how to do it. It's not just her. It's anyone that's a top player. I just feel like I want to do the best that I can.”
Sharapova fell at the final hurdle in Miami for the fifth time and third successive year. In taking the opening set, the 25 year old won her first set in 14 attempts against Williams, but has lost to the 15-time major titlist 11 times in a row. Sharapova was bidding to become just the third woman to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back.
“I think today, I certainly played a lot better [against her]. I had my chances. There's no reason why I couldn't win the match today,” reflected Sharapova. “I was not playing well enough to win the match, 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.”
The blockbuster final saw a series of momentum shifts in the first two sets. Serving at 1-1 in the first set, Williams saved three break points in a lengthy game that saw eight deuces. The two stars would trade breaks in the fifth and sixth games, but Sharapova broke again for a 5-4 lead and served out the set to love.
Though Williams managed to break for a 2-0 lead at the start of the second set, Sharapova maintained her level to win three straight games and appeared to have the goods to notch her first win in 8.5 years against Williams. The Palm Beach Gardens resident quickly regrouped to break to love and went on to claim the final 10 games of the clash to seal the victory in two hours and eight minutes. Williams made the most of her opportunities, capitalizing on all seven of her break points.