Serena Overpowers Azarenka, Wins Madrid
Published May 13, 2012 12:00
MADRID, Spain - Serena Williams capped a sensational week at the Mutua Madrid Open, blasting 26 winners past Victoria Azarenka - including 14 aces - to win the 41st WTA title of her career at the Premier-level tournament.
Williams was in command of the final from the start against the World No.1, winning the first four games of the match en route to a 6-1 first set, and after an early second set break settling into a holding pattern until she won, 61 63.
Williams was sharp at the most important times, converting on four of her five break point opportunities - and swatting away Azarenka's lone break point.
"I think Victoria is the player to beat," Williams said. "She has won I don't know how many tournaments this year alone. That's an amazing amount. So if you look at the stats, you just have to put her up there as the player to beat.
"My whole thing is to play consistently. That's what I've done the last couple weeks - and doing what I do best, which at the end of the day is playing tennis.
"I belong on a tennis court. That's where I feel amazing."
"She was so much better than me today. I have to give her credit, she's been showing great tennis the whole week," Azarenka said. "It wasn't going my way today, but things happen. From here I can take the positive things from what I've been doing all week, and then see the clear picture of what I need to improve."
As if Williams' 61 63 quarterfinal victory over World No.2 Maria Sharapova wasn't impressive enough, her dismantling of Azarenka in the final was her 13th career win over a World No.1, tying Venus Williams for most victories over a World No.1 among active players; she also ties Kim Clijsters for second-most WTA titles among active players with 41 (Venus Williams has 43).
Perhaps the biggest message: Williams is now 13-0 on clay this year, having gone 5-0 to win Charleston, 2-0 to help the US back into the World Group of Fed Cup, and now 6-0 to win Madrid. And along the way she has only lost one set, to Caroline Wozniacki in the third round this week (winning that, 16 63 62).
"I absolutely love clay. I grew up on clay - I played on hardcourt until I was 11, then until I turned 16 I only played on clay courts," Williams said. "I actually love the clay but my results haven't been stellar. I have won the French Open and lots of clay court tournaments, though. It's really a myth about me not liking clay. I like it more than grass, which is weird. Hopefully I can start doing better."
Williams is now 7-1 in her head-to-head series with Azarenka. With the title run, the former No.1 keeps her climb back up the rankings going, No.9 to No.6.
"I don't play to be No.2. I don't think Victoria plays to be No.2, nor does Maria," Williams said. "We all play to be the best. We're all out here to do the best we can do, and if that's No.1, that's my ultimate goal. A lot of people feel that way."
It was still a strong week for Azarenka, who also lost just one set this week - during her 36 63 63 quarterfinal win over French Open champion Li Na - and reached her 22nd WTA final, still holding a positive stat there, 12-10.
"Being in the final of such a tournament is a good achievement," Azarenka said. "It's disappointing to lose today but what can you do, it's done. Tomorrow another tournament starts and I have to think about the positive things and take the best out of this week. I've been playing some great tennis.
"Today wasn't an example of it, but there's always tomorrow."