March 31, 2013 by Parveer Mann
After two weeks of Serena Williams’ free tennis in Indian Wells, the world was reminded this week where any debate in the women’s game about hard court superiority should begin.
Home Continent Advantage
In capturing her sixth title in Miami and first since 2008, Williams accomplished everything she wanted to do this past week. She moved past shaky results in the Middle East and captured a title and tournament, she feels strongly attached to. I would suggest the success in Miami is just part of a different mindset Serena has when playing in North America.
She has now won an amazing 20 of her 48 WTA titles in the US or Canada. I have constantly read or heard Serena say how much she especially likes to win in places like Miami, Stanford or Toronto. They are cities she feels at home in and ones that help her best prepare for the different grand slams. The extra motivation to perform in these cities is evident in her track record and just underlines the point, when on, her superiority is unquestionable.
Doubt without Azarenka?
Some could argue that with Victoria Azarenka skipping the Sony Open with ankle problems that I couldn’t possibly make the assertion that question of hard court superiority should start with Serena. The fact that the Aussie Open champion won in Melbourne and Doha (over Serena) this year makes this win less impressive.
I would counter by saying that those watching the women’s final saw Serena challenged for more than a set by a Maria Sharapova, who was especially sharp and attacking with her forehand. In a rivalry that has never manifested (Serena has not lost to Maria since 2004); Sharapova was absolutely in charge of the match up a set and 3-2 in the second when Serena elevated her game. Or more appropriately, the next 10 games saw a sharper Serena and the familiar flaws in Sharapova’s game emerge. It was still striking to see Serena put away a player like Sharapova who was riding high after her win in Indian Wells.
Regardless, Serena withstood a mighty challenge in Miami and Azarenka or no Azarenka won her biggest title of the year going into Charleston and then the clay courts.
Highlights of the Tennis Weekend
Along with Serena, it was one of those ‘beware’ of Andy Murray weeks as he outlasted David Ferrer to win the Sony Open. With both players fighting heat and fatigue, Andy was able to finish strong and has supplanted Roger Federer as the world number 2.