Williams brushes off Navarro challenge to clinch 8th Miami title
World number one Serena Williams has won her eighth Miami WTA title with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-0 win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
The 33-year-old US superstar, who won her 19th Grand Slam title in Australia this year, lifted the trophy in the elite premier level tournament for the third straight year.
She also won three straight Miami titles from 2002-04 and back-to-back titles in 2007-08.
With her 66th career WTA title, she is one shy of Billie Jean King for sixth on the Open Era all-time list.
Williams hasn’t lost a competitive match since October, when she fell to Simona Halep in the round robin phase of the WTA Finals — which Williams went on to win.
Williams had already surpassed Steffi Graf for most Miami triumphs with her win last year.
On Saturday she joined Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert as the only Open Era players to win the same event at least eight times.
Graf won nine titles in Berlin, Evert won eight in Hilton Head, and Navratilova achieved the feat in seven tournaments -- including her nine Wimbledon titles.
After clawing her way past world number three Halep in the semifinals, Williams played for the title against an opponent she had beaten in four prior encounters without dropping a set.
World number 12 Suarez Navarro, playing in the biggest final of her career, found herself facing Williams at her most formidable -- firing winners from every part of the court. “When I play with Serena I know that she’s the best,” Suarez Navarro said. “She has the game to make me play bad.
“But this time I believed in me, in how I’m playing the other matches. I tried. I tried until the last point, but it was tough and difficult for me.”
Suarez Navarro held her nerve and her serve through the first five games.
But Williams converted her third break chance of the sixth game to grab a 4-2 lead in the opening set, consolidating the break with an easy hold.
Suarez Navarro saved two set points against her serve in the next game, but Williams gave herself another chance with a forehand winner and Suarez Navarro handed her the set with an error.
Suarez Navarro had a chance to break in the first game of the second set, but Williams held on then broke at love in the next game.
She polished off the triumph in just 56 minutes.
It was an especially satisfying win for Williams, coming after a troublesome knee prompted her to forfeit her scheduled semi-final at the premier level tournament in Indian Wells a fortnight earlier.
Suarez Navarro lost her seventh WTA final in eight appearances. But her fine week in Florida, where her victims included Venus Williams, will see her break into the top 10 in the world rankings on Monday.