April 5, 2008

Serena wins 5th Sony Ericsson Open Title!

Serena has defeated Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 5-7, 6-3. With this win Serena ties Steffi Graf's record of winning the Sony Ericsson Open 5 times! Serena DOMINATEDthe 1st set, blinked in the 2nd set and slammed the door (after some shaky play and a slew of errors) in the 3rd and final set. Serena had many chances to close out the match and she FINALLY converted on Championship Point #8! (At one point she even smashed her racquet in disgust). All in all, Serena came up with the goods when it mattered most. Even though Serena won this match, her ranking will drop to #10. (Crazy, I know). Serena also leveled the head-to-head match up with Jelena (3-3). On the road to the title Serena dispatched the #1 player in the world (Justine Henin), the #3 (Jelena Jankovic) and the #4 (Svetlana Kuznetsova). The computer may rank Serena at #9 or #10 but we KNOW better!

Williams survived some shaky play down the stretch and an improbable comeback by Jankovic, who trailed 5-3 in the second set. Williams closed out the elusive victory on her eighth championship point with an overhead slam. "It definitely got tough," Williams said during the trophy ceremony. "I think maybe I got a little tight and put too much pressure on myself."

Williams arrived at Key Biscayne a trimmer player, thanks to a recent rigorous training regimen, and needed to be in top condition in the 2½-hour final. Both players held up well in the 85-degree sunshine, and some of their best rallies -- one lasting 26 shots -- came in the final few games. Williams, who grew up in nearby Palm Beach Gardens, also won the tournament in 2002-04 and 2007. "The Serena and Steffi Open," Williams said. "I love Steffi Graf. She's a great champion and was my role model. To even be compared to her is awesome."

Williams improved to 14-1 this year, with her only loss to Jankovic in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. At first it appeared the final might not last an hour. Williams dominated for a set and a half, and she was three points from victory in the second set when she began spraying nervous shots, while Jankovic started to play better. Williams lost her serve at love for 5-all, then double-faulted to lose set point and forced a third set.

"I was thinking, 'Maybe she's going to be nice to me,'" Jankovic said. Even the pro-Williams crowd applauded the dogged effort by Jankovic, who had rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the third set and there was more drama to come. Angered by her lapse, Williams raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set but again wavered. She had her first championship point in the next game, another at 5-1 and three more at 5-2. Williams twice exhorted herself with screams but lost that game, then slammed her racket against the concrete and sent it skipping into the side wall, which drew jeers from the crowd.

Jankovic saved two more match points in the next game before Williams closed out the victory with her 51st winner. She also had 52 errors. "She was just too strong," Jankovic said. "She's a great champion. All the credit to her." Williams, who improved to 47-5 at Key Biscayne, won $590,000. Jankovic received $295,675.

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