A fitting culmination to the 2014 Sony Open Tennis tournament will feature defending champion and top ranked Serena Williams in her ninth Miami final, this time against world No. 2 Li Na. Williams leads the series 10-1 and has won their last nine consecutive matches. Check out the Williams vs Li Na Head to Head and stats.
World No. 1 Serena Williams earned her 15th consecutive victory against Maria Sharapova, defeating the 2013 Miami runner-up 6-4, 6-3. The Russian star began the match in full throttle, rushing out to a 4-1 lead against the defending champion, yet ultimately it was her high rate of unforced errors and double faults that cost her the contest. Williams hit 21 winners and 22 unforced errors, while Sharapova hit 15 winners, 29 unforced errors and 5 double faults. While the match had no shortage of intense rallies and powerful hitting, Williams ultimately closed out the match in 1 hour and 37 minutes.
“It wasn’t easy,” Williams said of the slow start. “Obviously Maria plays really well, and she’s done really well here, so I just decided I had to do a little better, stay focused and make more shots.”
Williams, who is highly complimentary of the Sony Open Tennis tournament, has been highly successful at this event – reaching 9 finals and winning six of them. Her sixth title win at this event overshadowed Steffi Graf’s previous record of five titles, and Williams will now be looking to extend that record to 7 titles.
The first set was a sloppy and elongated affair, with both players committing a significant amount of errors throughout. Li surrendered two breaks of serve, including her final service game in the set, and managed an abysmal 20% of her second serve shots, yet still managed to snatch the set 7-5 after breaking Cibulkova in the final game. The Slovak pounced early in the second set, taking an early break against the Chinese No. 1 and pushed her lead to 5-2 before closing the set out 6-2 minutes later.
Cibulkova carried the momentum through to the third set, where she once again broke Li in her opening game to jump to a 2-0 lead, winning six consecutive games and 21 of the last 24 points in the process. The second seed came to life the following game and managed to end Cibulkova’s streak of six games by holding her second service game. She would strike again two games later and break back to even the score at 3-3. The eighth game proved to be a decisive one, as Li continued her onslaught to break the world No. 11 and extend her lead to 5-3, winning three straight games. While the final game was a tense one, Li would close out the match less than five minutes later.
Of their previous 11 encounters on the WTA tour, Li Na has only ever managed one win against the top ranked American: a three set victory in Stuttgart back in 2008. Since then, Williams has reeled off nine straight wins against the Chinese No. 1, and while their last meeting was a relatively close one, it is unlikely that Li will be able to deny Williams a record seventh title in Miami.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Three Sets