WTA Tour – Williams defends her title in Miami
Serena Williams equalled Steffi Graf’s record of five WTA Miami titles with a 6-1 3-6 7-5 defeat of Jelena Jankovic.
The world number eight took the first set 6-1 with an imperious display of aggressive serving and ferocious groundstrokes, and appeared to be racing away with the match, leading 3-0 with a break in the second.
Jankovic had other ideas, however, and broke back three times to take an enthralling second set 7-5. Suddenly Williams was making unforced errors and the match had been turned on its head. There were further turns to follow.
As the deciding set got under way Jankovic called for a medic and could be heard complaining of feeling “light-hearted” and experiencing pain in her ears. A time-out ensued, but when the match resumed the world number three appeared a spent force.
Williams showed no mercy. The 27-year-old romped to a 5-0 lead in the final set – replacing the calm approach she adopted at the outset for increasingly raucous screams and grunts.
But Jankovic would not go quietly. She broke back for 5-1, held for 5-2 and remarkably broke again as Williams let four match points go begging.
After dropping a 40-0 lead at 5-2 Serena hurled her racket to the ground in frustration, earning a code violation for racket abuse.
“I smashed a racket — are you sure it was me?” Williams said, coyly. “I guess maybe my hand must have been oily.”
Ultimately, at her eighth attempt, Williams smashed home to secure her 30th title on the WTA tour, successfully defend her Miami crown and equalling Graf’s record in the process.
“I thought I had 15 match points,” joked Williams, who has a 47-5 record in Miami. “It was a couple of shots she hit really well a couple of times.”
“I was up and on my way to glory and out of there in an hour. When someone has nothing to lose and starts playing the match like you have nothing to lose those are the most dangerous people in life and on a court.”
“She looked so nervous out there,” said the Serb of the eight times Grand Slam champion. “I could never believe that a girl who has won so many grand slams, so many tournaments, could be that nervous closing out the match.”
Both players turned down the offer of a 10-minute heat break between the second and third sets and Williams broke the Serbian world number three in the first game of the decider.
Jankovic, who has suffered with a cold throughout the tournament, immediately called the trainer and complained that she had a headache and felt she was going to choke.
“It was really annoying for me to be sick and playing a final,” said Jankovic. “I felt a little bit weak today. I couldn’t breathe. I tried just to play the game and just enjoy it and have fun.”