Serena Sends Message, Wins 40th WTA Title
A day after a semifinal win she said was one of the best matches of her career, Serena Williams brought that same form out again for the final of the Family Circle Cup, routing Lucie Safarova in 58 minutes, 60 61, to cross another milestone - the 40th WTA title of her illustrious career.
On Saturday, the No.5-seeded Williams defeated a No.2-seeded Sam Stosur in just 58 minutes, 61 61, compiling an almost unheard of +14 differential on clay against one of the best clay courters out there (29 winners to 15 errors).
Williams did even better against the No.9-seeded Safarova in the final, winning the first nine games of the match to build a 60 30 lead; Safarova held at love to get on the board, but Williams won another three games to close it out, 60 61.
The match time of the final was the same as her semifinal, 58 minutes, but her differential was an even better +19 (27 winners to just eight errors).
When asked about playing so unbelievably well in the last two rounds, Williams declared she didn't want the momentum to end. "I hope I can make it three and four and five and six and more and more and more," she said. "I definitely want to continue this. I've never played consistently at such a high level with low errors like this, and the scary thing is I could have served so much better."
The American moves from No.10 to No.9 now, but with nothing to defend until the grass court season, and nothing substantial to defend until the summer hardcourt season, she could make a run back towards where she once was.
"I have nothing to defend. June - Wimbledon I didn't do anything, Eastbourne I won one match, so that doesn't count. I did pretty well in the summer, but then I dropped off again until this tournament. So I really am like a floating bird.
"It's motivating for me to go home and work harder, because I know Lucie and Sam and everyone is going to work hard, too. Now they know what to expect even more when they play me. This is a battle, and I want to continue to win.
"My next tournament is Madrid."
And how will Williams celebrate her latest triumph? "I'm going on HSN tonight at midnight. I will be launching my new collection," she said. "That's how I'll be celebrating, with a new line. I'm actually excited about it. Some great things."
Williams lost just 15 games all week - the fewest en route to a WTA title this year. But the biggest stat might be winning that 40th WTA title, just the third active player to get to 40 (Venus Williams has 43, Kim Clijsters has 41).
It was only Williams' fourth WTA clay court title, but they've all been big ones - Rome and Roland Garros in 2002, and Charleston twice now, 2008 and 2012.
Safarova still had a stellar week, reaching her third Premier final (she was also a finalist at Paris [Indoors] in 2007 and 2010) and recording some meaningful wins the last two rounds, over Vera Zvonareva in the quarterfinals (her 14th Top 10 win) and Polona Hercog in the semifinals (her first career double bagel). Sunday, April 8, 2012
Singles - Final
(5) Serena Williams (USA) d. (9) Lucie Safarova (CZE) 60 61 in 58 minutesPavlyuchenkova & Safarova Capture Doubles Title
In a field that included four of the world's Top 5 doubles teams, it was wildcards Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova that came out on top, capping their week with a 57 64 106 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shvedova.
Pavlyuchenkova and Safarova beat No.3 seeds Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina and No.1 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond en route to the final, then beat the odds again, rallying from a set and a break down to overcome Medina Garrigues and Shvedova.
It was particularly meaningful for Safarova, who had not only reached one of the biggest WTA finals of her career earlier in the day - Serena Williams outdid her for the singles title - but it was the Czech's first ever WTA doubles title.
"It's amazing," Safarova said of the doubles breakthrough. "Nastia and I got our first wildcard in Miami and made the quarters, and here we got our second wildcard and won it. I like doubles. I really enjoy it and it seems we fit as partners."
Pavlyuchenkova won her third WTA doubles title, but first at the Premier level.
Medina Garrigues and Shvedova had taken out No.4 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka en route to the final. The other star team in the draw, No.2 seeds Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, lost to Natalie Grandin and Vladimira Uhlirova. Doubles - Final
(WC) Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) d. Medina Garrigues/Shvedova (ESP/KAZ) 57 64 106 in 1h48'