Serena Williams produced a champion’s display of composed and clinical tennis to outmuscle Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-3 in the final of the WTA Championships on Sunday.
Williams, twice previous champion in 2001 and 2009, went unbroken through the entire game as her serve proved too much for Sharapova. Just two breaks were needed – both early in the sets – for Williams to reclaim the title she first won over a decade ago.
The performance paid homage to a player who has dominated the WTA circuit this season: winning Wimbledon, New York and Olympic singles titles. Indeed, 11 years since her debut WTA Championships victory, Williams has staked a real claim for the title of the best player women’s tennis has ever seen – so natural and cool-headed is she in major finals.
Williams made an early break in the fifth game of the first set, smashing home a rally to move 30-0 up before smoothly rounding off the game. The American kept true to her serve and despite spirited play from Sharapova when 4-5 down, the set went the way of Williams.
Into the second set and Williams continued her dominance, breaking Sharapova in game one with some enormous forehands to push through the break to 30. Once again the set went by serve with Williams confident enough to reserve any lung-busting running to her own games.
Indeed, it was Williams’ consistency that did Sharapova in the end. For all the Russian’s technique and wily ability to keep in points, she just could not match the groundstrokes of one of the circuit’s most persistent and powerful players.
So strong was Williams’ serve that her first deuce of the match only came in the eighth game of the second, where she suddenly appeared slightly lethargic. However, Sharapova was unable to capitalise on her opportunity and Williams powered through to go 5-3 up.
Maybe Sharapova knew it just wouldn’t be her day and having seen her first chance of breaking Williams taken away in such clinical nature, the confidence drained from her heading into her last service game.
Before the game Sharapova will have known the ominous record she has with Williams: a 2-9 deficit and without a win against the American since 2004. It was never to be in Istanbul on Sunday and Sharapova maybe knew it as she served out the last game.
Williams swatted an easy route through Sharapova’s early serves and quickly found herself with two Championship points. The 15-time Grand Slam champion needed no second chance, as a powerful return on 30-40 proved enough to overcome her opponent and take the WTA Championship crown.