Miami Final: As It Happened
Published March 29, 2014 12:12
Next it's Williams' turn. She's certainly popular round these parts and she needed that crowd support at times in that first set. "She started out so well," Williams said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I just need to hang in here.' Then I heard some fans trying to pull me through - if it hadn't been for you guys I wouldn't be standing here right now."
Li is first up on stage to receive her runner-up trophy and have a quick chat with Mary Joe Fernandez. Li is usually pretty good value during her acceptance speeches, and today is no different, thanking her coach, Carlos Rodriguez, physio and, somewhat reluctantly, her husband.
WILLIAMS WINS THE SONY OPEN TENNIS 75 61! From 5-2 down in the opening set, Williams has been simply magnificent, and she wraps up victory with another quickfire service game before a warm embrace with Li at the net.
Williams 5-1: Li may be going down, but she's going down fighting, saving five break points before Williams finally gets the double break.
Williams 4-1: And there is no let up from Williams who moves within two games of a seventh Miami title thanks to a love service game.
Williams 3-1: Li starts well enough, capitalizing on a net cord as she moved to 40-0. But once again, she's pegged back to deuce and then broken when Li sends a forehand long.
Williams 2-1: Li has a sniff at 30-30 and then gets to deuce with drive volley winner. Williams though is really flow and snuffs out the chance with help of her first ace of the match.
1-1: The bad news for Li is that Williams has won 564 of 588 matches when she's taken the first set. The good news is that Li was one of those 24 winners (in Stuttgart in 2008). Li holds to stop the rot.
Williams 1-0: The American starts the second set as she left off in last, taking her sixth consecutive game when Li is unable to return of high-kicking serve out wide.
Williams 7-5: Li looks like she may get to the tie-break when she moves 30-15 ahead, but a couple of errors gift Williams her first set point. Li fends off the first, drawing backhand error and then gets a tad lucky when Williams misses a makeable pass. She continues to live dangerously, though, and eventually pays the price when she is unable to return a stinging half volley.
Williams 6-5: It's one-way traffic now, Williams bludgeoning her way to a love service game and into the lead for the first time in the match.
5-5: A drop volley gives Williams the first point, but it draws a great response from Li, who brings up her first set point with a couple of forehand winners. Williams saves it in style, rifling backhand down the line for a winner. The next point is even better, as she returns a swinging wide serve with interest before breaking back when Li nets a backhand after another punishing return.
Li 5-4: Now it's Williams on the front foot, leaving Li scrambling around the back of the court and reducing her arrears to just once game when a Li return drifts long.
Li 5-3: Is the comeback on? Serena races to 0-40, Li saves a couple before Williams takes the game when precise return.
Li 5-2: A cracking backhand return helps Li carve out three break points. Williams digs in, saving all three with a combination of precise serving and big groundstrokes, only for Li to earn another with a rare venture to net and a lovely angled backhand volley. Williams hits her third double fault of the match and it's a double break for World No.2.
Li 4-2: More danger for Li when she slips 0-30 behind, but Williams is unable to capitalize as Li keeps her nose in front.
Li 3-2: The breezy conditions on Stadium court at Crandon Park seem to be causing the six-time champion a few problems, but a couple of Li errors help her hold to 30 and stay in touch.
Li 3-1: A crunching forehand winner takes Williams to 0-30 and a backhand long from Li brings her the first break points of the match. Li saves one with beautiful cross-court backhand winner, which has Williams watching on in admiration, then the second thanks to a pin-point forehand into corner. A great return gives the top seed another chance but once again the Li forehand comes to the rescue.
Li 2-1: Li continues to apply the pressure, taking Williams to deuce before ballooning a couple of groundstrokes long to help Williams onto the scoreboard.
Li 2-0: Williams is yet to find her rhythm, and Li holds comfortably to 15 when the American's backhand drifts long.
Li 1-0: Some early pressure when Li gets to 30-30 on the Williams serve. A double fault brings up and early break point, and while she fails to capitalize, netting a down-the-line forehand, she strikes a few moments later to seize an early advantage.
Past encounters between the two have been dominated by Williams, who leads the head-to-head record 10-1. The most recent of these came in the final of last year's WTA Championships where the American weathered an early storm before winning in three.
Williams lives just up the road in Palm Springs and over the years has treated Crandon Park like a home away from home, picking up six titles and 66 wins in 13 visits.
Can she pick up title number seven or will Li finally get one over the World No.1? All will be revealed over the next few hours.
While we wait for the action to get underway, it's time for a shameless plug to our ever-informative match notes.