Azarenka Beats Sharapova For Second Sony Ericsson Open Title
by Dana Hatic|
A victorious Victoria Azarenka dropped her racquet and celebrated with tears after winning her second Sony Ericsson Open title, defeating Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4.
The Belarusian player won the match in 1 hour 46 minutes and, with an overwhelmingly aggressive return game, allowed Sharapova to hold serve only once in the match. Azarenka won eight break points and hit 19 winners to close out the match and hoist the champion’s trophy for the second time in three years.
“I'm enjoying myself so much on the court,” said Azarenka, commenting on her attitude toward her game. “I'm going to fight for every ball, and just do the best job possible.” She did just that, winning her first title of the year and becoming the eighth woman to win two or more titles in Miami.
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Azarenka won this tournament in 2009, and today’s win gives the 21 year old her sixth WTA title. When the WTA rankings update on Monday, Azarenka will vault to No. 6 and tie her previous high from 2009. Sharapova’s third Miami final will place her back in the Top 10 for the first time since 2009, as she claims the No. 9 spot.
After a lackluster first set and six double faults, Sharapova found her form in the second set, playing more confidently and keeping the ball in play to save two championship points at 5-3. She gained an advantage over Azarenka, who double faulted to give the Russian her fourth break of the match and a chance to serve to even the second set. Azarenka withstood the break and came through with a backhand winner down the line to set up her third championship point.
“I think I have one of the best returns. That's one of my weapons,” Azarenka said. She used this weapon to keep Sharapova from winning a service game until the sixth game in the second set.
“It's a little bit too late to pick up the pace when you're down a set and 4-0,” said Sharapova, who acknowledged that Azarenka was the more aggressive player. “I wish I picked it up earlier. Against a player like her you have to have that level from the beginning or else she's going to go with it and only get better. She'll gain more confidence.”
This is Sharapova’s first appearance in Miami since 2007, as she battled through shoulder surgery and illness. This final marks a positive start to the season for the Russian, who reached the semi-finals of Indian Wells and the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“I'm very, very happy that I've achieved this much in the last three, four weeks,” she said.
En route to the title Azaarenka played three three-set matches and twice came from down a set to defeat both Dominika Cibulkova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She defeated second seed Kim Clijsters in the quarter-finals and third seed Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals, winning both in straight sets for her sixth and seventh Top 10 wins.
Azarenka said she was looking to continue her rise in the rankings. “I would like to take it step by step and really develop my game. It's really developing right now, so I would really like to stick with that and move forward,” she said.
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