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Serena too strong for Sharapova yet again

ESPN staff
May 12, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Williams confirms number one spot with 50th title win

Serena Williams fended off a spirited second set onslaught from Maria Sharapova to claim the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday.

Williams, the top seed, romped to the opening set but found her Russian opponent an altogether more determined proposition in the second - but nevertheless broke the second seed late on to confirm a 6-1 6-4 success.

Williams has now won 50 tournaments on the WTA tour in her illustrious career - while her impressive winning streak over Sharapova now stretches over 12 meetings and nine years.

"Thank you to everyone, to all my fans and to Maria. I am very happy," Williams said afterwards.

There is little love lost between the two players, but it was Williams who started in the ascendancy. The American bullied her opponent from almost the first point, creating five break point opportunities in a stanza where Sharapova barely had a moment's respite.

Three of those chances Williams would take, while simultaneously ensuring she retained control on her own delivery. With that combination it was only a matter of time before she would take the opening set; a 6-1 scoreline a fitting reflection of her dominance.

The second set, however, saw Sharapova come out with more resolve - immediately breaking her suddenly vulnerable opponent to send a warning that the final was far from concluded.

Williams soon hit back to make it 3-3, and from there the contest went with serve - although Williams was soon forced into some desperate measures to engineer a hold that would eventually prove crucial.

Having overcome that difficulty and then successfully holding again for 5-4, suddenly all the pressure was on Sharapova to hold herself to stay in the contest. And it was a pressure she was unable to cope with, as her opponent picked up a timely break that ended the tournament.

"Thank you to everyone for being so supportive in every single match," Sharapova said. "It was quite special and I wish I could have went an extra round but there are many more years for me.

"Congratulations to Serena for an excellent match and her excellent week as well."

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