The years go by, but Serena Williams’ domination of women’s tennis shows no signs of ending. On Saturday the 33-year-old will play in her 10th Miami Open final aiming to secure the title for the eighth time in her extraordinary career.
The American is 16-1 on with some bookmakers to beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, which are remarkable odds for a two-horse race, especially given the two players’ respective routes to the final. While Suarez Navarro needed just 87 minutes to beat Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3, Williams was on court for two hours and eight minutes before overcoming Romania’s Simona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
Halep provided the strongest possible test for Williams. The Romanian has won 24 matches this year, more than anyone else on the women’s tour, and has already won three titles. Her bold hitting and concentration on Williams’ forehand forced the world No 1 into 59 unforced errors. Having levelled the match by taking the second set, Halep matched Williams until the very last game of the decider, when the American broke serve to secure her victory.
“I feel like the match was on my racket and I really had opportunities in the second, but I just didn’t take them,” Williams said afterwards. “That is something I can’t do going into the Grand Slams coming up.”
Williams said that she had yet to rediscover her best form but paid tribute to Halep. “Her game was great,” Williams said. “She plays so good. I like her attitude. I like how she gets pumped up. I like how she fights.”
Miami is like a second home for Williams and her sister. Since Venus Williams won her first Miami title in 1998, the tournament has staged only five finals which have not featured at least one of the two sisters. Serena is chasing her third successive title at Crandon Park and is currently on a 17-match winning streak there.
By reaching the final, Williams has guaranteed she will stay top of the world rankings at least until next month’s tournament in Madrid. That would extend her stay at the top to 116 consecutive weeks, which will be the third best in the history of the women’s rankings. The win over Halep was the 701st of Williams’ career and her 101st against a top-10 opponent.
Since losing to her sister Venus in the semi-finals in Montreal last August, Williams has lost only two matches. She retired hurt during the first set against Alizé Cornet in Wuhan in September and lost in straight sets to Halep in the round-robin stage of the year-ending WTA Finals in Singapore the following month, when she went on to beat the Romanian in the final.
Williams has beaten Suarez Navarro in all four of their previous meetings, but the diminutive Spaniard is in the form of her life. She dropped only 12 points on her serve against Petkovic and did not have to defend a single break point against the German, who was playing in her second successive Miami semi-final. Suarez Navarro last reached a final in Antwerp two months ago, when Petkovic took the title after the Spaniard withdrew because of a neck injury.
One of Suarez Navarro’s prizes for reaching her first premier-level final will be a place in the world’s top 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday. Suarez Navarro will be only the third Spaniard to reach the top 10 following Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario.
Andy Murray was playing Tomas Berdych last night in the first of the men’s semi-finals. Novak Djokovic was meeting John Isner later in the evening. The men’s final will be played on Sunday.Reuse content