Serena Williams has won her seventh Sony Open title. The World no.1 and Miami home girl beat world no. 2 Li Na 7-5, 6-1 in just under two hours to capture her second title of 2014. Recovering from a slow start, Williams found her game and showed once more how much she feels at home in Miami.
Williams did not have it all her own way against the recently crowned Australian Open champion. The Chinese struck winners to dominate the first set to lead 5-2. Serena also gave her opponent a helping hand. The world no. 1 was not serving like one with a first serve percentage of only 42 percent over the course of the match.
However, just as Li Na led Williams by a set and a break in the recent WTA Tour Finals championships but could not keep her lead, she did the same in Miami, winning only one more game. The Chinese had her own service problems, too, facing 17 break points and losing 6 of them. Against Serena, that kind of stat is never going to help an opponent, and it is nothing less than disastrous in Miami of all places.
The American feels more at home in Miami than at any other court in the world. First, while she was born in Michigan and raised in L.A, she has made Miami her home town and can be seen hanging out on South Beach in her free time. Second, she was a six-time Champion going into this year’s final. She has also been runner-up twice. Her first final appearance was when the tournament was called the Lipton Championships in 1999. She lost that match to her sister Venus. She then won it in 2002, 2003 and 2004 when it was the Nasdaq Open and twice when it was the Sony Ericsson Open. This is her second time to win it as the Sony Open.
Indeed, while the name of the tournament may change, the name of Serena Williams on the Champions Roll of Honor does not with seven titles in the last 13 tournaments. Few statistics will speak as loudly when it comes to William’s longevity at the top of the women’s game than her results at the prestigious Miami event. The tournament used to have the same status Indian Wells now has: the unofficial fifth slam. And Serena’s status as a seven times Champion in Miami and her failure to even compete at Indian Wells since 2001 make Indian Wells’ unofficial fifth slam status a little dubious. After all, would the world no. 1 and greatest player of her generation, if not ever, be absent from a slam?
But whatever Serena’s business is with Indian Wells, she likes nothing less than going about it at her best in Miami. Down 2-5 against Li Na, Williams raised her level and as her aggression rose and her shots landed in, her love of Miami was there for all to see. Williams hit 29 winners, 6 of them at the net, 15 on the forehand and 9 on the backhand. She also made 29 errors, but her stats were superior to Li’s, which was what mattered. The Chinese hit 16 winners to 37 errors.
Williams thanked the fans at the trophy ceremony. She told the home crowd that her comeback was in part thanks to hearing people pulling for her. With seven titles, it is little wonder the locals cheer for a fellow Miami resident. And with Serena playing some of her best tennis aged 32 , an eighth title next season looks to be another chance for the home crowd to come out in support of their home girl.
By Christian Deverille