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WTA Sony Open – Miami: Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova 4-6 6-3 6-0 in the final

Serena storms back to sink Sharapova in three sets and lift Sony Open title in Miami

By
Steven Donaldson

PUBLISHED:

20:14 GMT, 30 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:39 GMT, 30 March 2013

Serena Williams lifted her sixth Sony Open title after magnificently bouncing back to see off Maria Sharapova in the final in Miami.

The world No 1 was edged out in a tight first set but lost three games thereafter as she stormed to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory and her 11th straight win over Sharapova.

The American has passed Steffi Graf's number of titles in this competition and became the oldest female champion at the tournament, while Sharapova has now been defeated in every one of her five final appearances in Miami.

Champion: Serena Williams holds the Sony Open trophy aloft in Miami

Champion: Serena Williams holds the Sony Open trophy aloft in Miami

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

History: The world No 1 became the oldest female winner of the tournament

Dominant: Williams beat Maria Sharapova (left) for the 11th time in a row

Dominant: Williams beat Maria Sharapova (left) for the 11th time in a row

After playing flawless tennis for an hour, Sharapova began to miss with her serve, and Williams dominated rallies with her power.

Sharapova built her lead by keeping Williams on the defensive, and she kissed the line with a winner on consecutive points to break for a 3-2 advantage in the second set.

But then came the turnaround. Williams began to capitalise on Sharapova's tentative second serve and broke back to love before taking advantage of two double faults by Sharapova to break again for a 5-3 lead.

Strong start: Sharapova edged ahead after winning a tight first set 6-4

Strong start: Sharapova edged ahead after winning a tight first set 6-4

Rampant: The American lost only 10 points in the final set to beat her Russian opponent

Rampant: The American lost only 10 points in the final set to beat her Russian opponent

Repeat: Williams became the first No 1 seed to lift the women's title in Miami since she won nine years ago

Repeat: Williams became the first No 1 seed to lift the women's title in Miami since she won nine years ago

Williams lost only 10 points in the final set and closed out the victory with a service winner.

'Maria definitely pushed me – she did a really great job today,' Williams said after he win.

'I look forward to our next matches – it's going to be really fun for the fans and for us and for everyone.'

Williams became the first No 1 seed to win the women's title since she was champion nine years ago.

Sharapova, who won the title in Indian Wells at the beginning of March, said: 'It's obviously been a really nice month.

'It's disappointing to end it like this but Serena played a great match and I'm sure we'll play a few more times this year.'

Wimbledon 2012: Roger Federer sets up Novak Djokovic semi-final

Majestic Federer destroys Youzhny to set-up mouth-watering semi against Djokovic

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UPDATED:

14:31 GMT, 4 July 2012

Roger Federer had Mikhail Youzhny in such knots as he breezed through to a Wimbledon semi-final appointment with Novak Djokovic that the Russian turned to the Royal Box for help.

Six-time champion Federer coasted to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory against a player he has never lost to.

This was their 14th career match and there was never any doubt the outcome would be a familiar one.

Marching on: Roger Federer celebrates after defeating Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets on Centre Court

Marching on: Roger Federer celebrates after defeating Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets on Centre Court

With the Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge watching on, sitting just along from Wimbledon royalty in
Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi, Federer was out to impress and certainly
accomplished that mission.

If the royal couple came for Andy
Murray, second on Centre Court against David Ferrer, the main course
would have to go a long way to trump their starter.

Indeed after Federer put away a delicious backhand drop volley to seal victory, the Royal Box led a standing ovation.

'I thought I played great out there,' Federer said.

Blown away: Six-time champion Federer was in scintillating form

Blown away: Six-time champion Federer was in scintillating form

'I'm extremely happy to be back in the semi-finals here at Wimbledon.

'I think it helps when royalty shows
up and other legends of the game come to see me play. I think it's
inspiring. I'm happy they came to support tennis and support me. It was
very special.'

A roar of approval had greeted William and Kate as they made their entrance, followed seconds later by another for the players.

The once-customary bow to the Royal
Box is no longer a Wimbledon tradition, and even from the early stages
it was those in the plush seats who may have felt more like showing
deference as Federer began what proved to be a masterful display.

The 30-year-old Swiss took just a
minute to take the opening game to love, and broke serve in the next at
the fifth time of asking.

The back injury that bothered him against Xavier Malisse was a distant memory, seemingly not an issue.

Federer was in the mood. He swatted
away a forehand impishly into the corner, with the minimum of effort,
drawing gasps from the crowd.

Special guests: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took their place in the Royal Box to watch the quarter-final

Special guests: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took their place in the Royal Box to watch the quarter-final

Alex Kay Talks Tennis

He had many on their feet when after
twice rescuing what seemed lost causes he whipped the most sumptuous of
forehands across court and past Youzhny.

With the first set wrapped up in 28 minutes, play was briefly interrupted when rain began to fall.

The Centre Court roof had been left
open, with organisers adamant this is an outdoor tournament, and sure
enough it was a passing shower, keeping the players off for barely
quarter of an hour.

On their return, the punishment
continued for Youzhny who was starting to play to the crowd, screaming
out after saving a pair of break points before trundling the ball into
the net on the next point to slump an immediate break behind.

In vain: Youzhny stretches for a backhand shot but he was outclassed throughout

In vain: Youzhny, left frustrated (below), stretches for a backhand shot but he was outclassed throughout

Frustration: Youzhny reacts after losing a point to the Swiss star

Federer's dominance over Youzhny dates back to their first meeting on tour in Stockholm 12 years ago.

They played at the fourth-round stage here last year, with Federer going on to lose to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters.

It was blowing a gale as Youzhny cut
Federer's lead to 3-2, but that was the last game the man from Moscow,
also 30, won in the second set.

A-game: Federer was supremely focused en route to reaching the semi-final

A-game: Federer was supremely focused en route to reaching the semi-final

Youzhny, having turned to the
dignitaries in desperation in the third game of the third set, brought
up two break points in the fourth when he trailed 2-1, and gave a
sustained cry of agony after failing to take the first. When the second
slipped away too he turned away in resignation.

At 5-1 and 40-love down, Youzhny
saved three match points and held serve. An unexpected turn of events.
But when the fourth arrived in the next game, Federer had held back a
treat and delivered the most elegant of volleys for the finishing touch.

All smiles: Federer will return to Centre Court on Friday where he will meet defending champion Novak Djokovic for a place in the final

All smiles: Federer will return to Centre Court on Friday where he will meet defending champion Novak Djokovic for a place in the final

Wimbledon 2012: Kim Clijsters loses to Angelique Kerber

Clijsters suffers heavy defeat in Wimbledon swansong as Belgian bows out

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UPDATED:

18:58 GMT, 2 July 2012

Kim Clijsters suffered the kind of mauling that must make retirement all the more attractive as her final Wimbledon came to a bitterly disappointing end.

Thirteen years have passed since Steffi Graf halted the 16-year-old Clijsters' first tilt at Wimbledon in the fourth round, and on Monday it was another German in Angelique Kerber who ended the Belgian's run at the same stage and in her penultimate grand slam.

Clijsters has the Olympics, also at Wimbledon, and the US Open to look forward to, after which a career which has yielded four singles titles in the slams will be brought to an end.

End of an era: Kim Clijsters has played her final match at Wimbledon

End of an era: Kim Clijsters has played her final match at Wimbledon

Three of those came in New York, one at the Australian Open. Clijsters reached two finals at the French Open but never ventured beyond the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

Romantics talked up her chances this fortnight, optimistic she might be able to summon one final great effort, but Kerber crushed those hopes, winning 6-1 6-1 on Court Three.

Clijsters will enter retirement for a second time having previously taken two years out in which she became a mother. She offered a wave to the crowd as she departed. It was more in apology than farewell.

'What I was thinking about was probably the match still,' she said. 'It wasn't so much about it being the last time. Not at all actually. I didn't really think about that.

'I just had the feeling that there was absolutely nothing I could have done today to have won that match. I just felt my opponent was better on every level.

'I think she played close to the perfect match.

Triumphant: Angelique Kerber raced to victory over Clijsters

Triumphant: Angelique Kerber raced to victory over Clijsters

'I never had a chance to get into the match or where she dropped her level a little bit. She was on every level just too good: served better, returned better, and just in the rallies was hitting the ball very deep, very fast on to the bounce, anticipating really good as well.

'I look forward to just watching her here in the rest of this tournament and seeing her in the future, how she does against different players.'

Left-hander Kerber is having an outstanding year, collecting titles in Paris and Copenhagen and in the week prior to Wimbledon reaching the final at Eastbourne.

Just 12 months ago she lost to Laura Robson in the first round at Wimbledon, but that is a distant memory for a player who went on to reach the US Open semi-finals within three months.

The 24-year-old stands eighth in the world and is rising, and it was a case of an emerging force in women's tennis playing a fading great.

Clijsters could not cope but said she would have no regrets about her Wimbledon fortunes over the years.

'I won't be sorry about anything,' she said. 'I know that every time that I've played here I've given my best, and that's the only thing that I can try.

'Some days it's good, some days it's great, and some days it's not good enough.'

Struggling: Clijsters was never in the match as she bowed out

Struggling: Clijsters was never in the match as she bowed out

Casting her mind back to that debut year in 1999, Clijsters recalled the clash with Graf, coincidentally for whom it was also her final Wimbledon. Graf won seven Wimbledon titles.

'Playing Steffi here was for me definitely one of my dreams come true as a young up-and-coming player,' Clijsters said.

'To be playing Steffi in her last Wimbledon was very, very special.'

She compared her first All England Club visit to a Disneyland trip, spoke of how as a child she 'felt the magic coming through the television' as she watched the tournament from home, and said she would take away fond memories of being watched by family, including her late father Leo.

Kerber, who goes on to play fellow German Sabine Lisicki in the quarter-finals, blanked thoughts of it being Clijsters' final Wimbledon from her mind until victory was secured.

'It was nice to play against her because we never played before,' Kerber said. 'I had the chance now at her last Wimbledon to play against her. It's good that I won this match, for me.

'She's a great player. She's a legend also for me. She won a lot of grand slams.

'I knew that I needed to play until the last point because if I gave her a little chance she would take it.

'I think that's her thing, that she's a fighter.'

Wimbledon 2012: Women"s draw is most open ever

Scream if you want the trophy! The battle for the women's title has never been so open

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 June 2012

Twenty years after she nervously sat with her future husband Andre Agassi at the Wimbledon’s Champions Dinner, celebrating their respective singles titles of 1992, Steffi Graf will be back at the All England Club this year.

Steffi – or Stefanie as she now likes to be known – will be an official guest of honour and as she serenely looks down from her vantage point in the Royal Box she might be excused a slight sense of bemusement.

She will hardly be surprised by the rat-a-tat-tat from the baseline, which has taken its cue from the days when she used to slug it out with Monica Seles, but the sheer unpredictably of who will emerge from it all as the winner, is so different to her era.

At full stretch: Maria Sharapova may be favourite but she has a big challenge ahead

At full stretch: Maria Sharapova may be favourite but she has a big challenge ahead

Just as men’s tennis is starting to look like a two-horse race, the women’s game resembles more the Grand National.

It is not because Graf these days focuses more on bringing up her family and overseeing her charity than following tennis that she can have little idea of who will win. Even the most assiduous follower of the women’s game cannot predict with confidence the holder of the Venus Rosewater Dish a week on Saturday.

How times change. When Graf and Seles were duelling at their peak between 1988 and 1993 they shared 22 out of 25 Grand Slam titles between them. When Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova ruled the world they monopolised 18 out of 19 majors in that period of the early to mid-eighties.

As we enter Wimbledon, eight different players have claimed the last nine Grand Slams and the upcoming generation continue to struggle to fully establish themselves, an example being Eastbourne last week, where all three of the top seeds lost in the first round.

United she stands: Samantha Stosur beat Serena Williams at the US Open

United she stands: Samantha Stosur beat Serena Williams at the US Open

Case to defend: Petra Kvitova is back in the hunt after winning in 2011

Case to defend: Petra Kvitova is back in the hunt after winning in 2011

This, combined with elements such as the deeply unattractive grunt/yelping of a few high-profile players, has led to various mutterings, usually under the breath, about whether equal prize money can be justified.

The arguments grow louder when standing comparison with Nadal, Djokovic and Co, although there is a counter-argument that the lottery element has made the women’s game more interesting.

And now, at least the WTA Tour has an authentic No 1. Maria Sharapova is every inch the superstar, confirmed by Forbes last week to be by far the highest-earning female athlete in the world and the only one of her sex to be inside the top 50.

Water performance: Victoria Azarenka was triumphant at the Australian Open in January

Water performance: Victoria Azarenka was triumphant at the Australian Open in January

Most importantly, unlike many of the No 1s who have gone before her in the past few years, she holds a major title, having bagged the French Open title. She has also overcome long-term shoulder problems and improved the weakest parts of her game, her serve and her movement around the court.

Sharapova’s elevation also seems to have rekindled one of the more traditionally intriguing aspects of women’s tennis, the fractious relationships between the leading players.

The Russian does not get on with world No 2 and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, and neither are relations warm with No 3 Agnieszka Radwanska.

When the Pole, having made an early exit at the Australian Open, had the temerity to question the world No 1’s grunting, the Russian came out with the delicious putdown: ‘She’s back in Poland, right’

Interestingly, when the genial Caroline Wozniacki was enjoying her long spell at No 1, the women’s locker room seemed to be a more harmonious place. In terms of finding the champion, there are two categories to pick from.

One is that of the established champions comprising of Sharapova, Serena Williams and, more distantly, Kim Clijsters, whose body now seems unwilling to go the distance.

Then there are those trying to add to, or start, their Grand Slam collections. Defending champion Petra Kvitova leads this group after bursting from the ranks a year ago to fulfil the potential that only the cognoscenti had seen in her previously.

The easygoing Czech, whose father is Mayor of her 6,000- population hometown Fulnek, has not quite backed it up since and admits that she could find it tough on her return to SW19.

History: Serena Williams has won four times at SW19 ... and could make it five

History: Serena Williams has won four times at SW19 … and could make it five

‘It’s going to be tougher to defend it. I expected to win my first match last year but nobody else was looking,’ she says. ‘This year everyone will be looking at me, expecting me to win. It’s a lot tougher, but at least I know from last year that I can win seven matches in a row.’

Kvitova’s hopes are certainly not helped by being in the tougher half of the draw, with a possible quarter final against Serena Williams and a semi against Azarenka.

Sharapova will be pleased to be tucked away from them, although she does face an awkward second round against 2010 semi-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova. We can also dare to anticipate some British success in the women’s event, as most of the home players have winnable matches.

French Open champion of 2010 Francesca Schiavone faces 18-year-old Laura Robson in a fascinating first round — could this be the year we get some decisive evidence of her exciting potential