Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Early domination lifts Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka’s second Sony Ericsson win features nine straight sweeps.

Associated Press

Victoria Azarenka’s second Sony Ericsson win features nine straight sweeps.

KEY BISCAYNE — Swapping shrieks with shots, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka made rallies sound like a car alarm.

Sharapova was the soprano, Azarenka the alto, and their alternating arias could be heard on the beach across the street from the Sony Ericsson Open.

But Sharapova was flat and her opponent sharp. Azarenka swept nine straight games to take charge Saturday and won the tournament for the second time, beating Sharapova 6-1, 6-4.

The final matched two of the most notorious grunters in tennis, and while both were noisy, Azarenka's shots had more bang. Sharapova committed 43 unforced errors, held serve only once and came up short with a late comeback bid.

"I played real well the first set," the No. 8-seeded Azarenka said. "Maria is such a great fighter, I knew she was going to fight to the end. She came up with great tennis at the end, and I had to hang in there. That's what paid off."

And who had the better shriek?

"I think mine is quieter," Azarenka said.

Sharapova committed eight errors in the first game. She lined one especially unsightly serve into the concrete in front of the net. By the time she found her range, Azarenka led 4-love in the second set.

"It's a little bit too late to pick up the pace when you're down a set and 4-love," Sharapova said. "I wish I picked it up earlier, obviously. She did many things better than I did today."

While the women's tournament was full of surprises, the men's draw is down to the game's top-ranked players. No. 1 Rafael Nadal plays for the championship today against No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who is 23-0 this year.

Sharapova lost in a final for the fourth time since her last title, at Strasbourg in May 2010. She's 0-3 in finals at Key Biscayne, where she was also the runnerup in 2005 and 2006.

But the three-time Grand Slam champion is healthy again after battling a series of injuries, and the results are starting to show. She's projected to climb this week to No. 9, her best since early 2009.

"It means that I'm winning matches, and winning more of them," she said. "It has been a long road to get here. It's not over yet."

Azarenka's also on the rise and projected to be ranked No. 6, matching a career best.

Serena and Venus Williams, who between them have won eight Key Biscayne titles, missed the tournament for health reasons. But Azarenka still faced a tough path to the final, beating No. 2 Kim Clijsters and No. 3 Vera Zvonareva in straight sets.

Azarenka, 21, avoided the emotional outbursts that derailed her in the past. She said that after losing in the third round at Dubai in February, she went home and reflected on the state of her game.

"I changed my mentality a little bit," she said. "I'm enjoying myself so much on the court that there's no room for me for frustration. I just don't care if I lose; what I mean is not to create such a big drama out of it."

.FAST FACTS

Today

No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 2 Novak Djokovic, Sony Ericsson Open final, 1 p.m., Key Biscayne. TV: Ch. 10

Early domination lifts Azarenka 04/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 8:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The Lightning's 2017-18 road jersey
  2. For starters: Ramus to DL, Peterson back, no further moves

    Blogs

    We were expecting a flurry of roster moves this afternoon and we got one. OF Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.

    Colby Ramus is on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to June 19 with left hip tendinitis.
  3. Jameis Winston stats: How the Bucs QB performed under pressure

    Bucs

    Every quarterback's performance declines when he faces pressure from the defense.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston faced pressure on more than 30 percent of his pass plays last season. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  4. Could Lightning deal for a defenseman today?

    Blogs

    Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman has been trying to further bolster his blueline, and he may have a chance to acquire one by tonight's first round of the NHL Draft.

    The Lightning is reportedly in on Travis Hamonic (Islanders), though New York is rumored to be asking for two-first round picks.
  5. SI ranks Quinton Flowers on top 100, above Deondre Francois

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's ongoing countdown of the top 100 players in college football includes some high praise for USF quarterback Quinton Flowers.