Proving once again she is the queen of Key Biscayne, Serena Williams took just 56 minutes to win the Miami Open 6-2, 6-0 over Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro on a postcard-perfect Saturday afternoon.
It was Williams' eighth title here, and afterward, she dedicated the victory to her father, Richard Williams, who was at the tournament during the earlier rounds, but fell ill Wednesday night and was unable to attend.
“I would like to dedicate this to my dad,” Williams said on court, as she accepted the $900,400 winner’s check. “He's not here. I miss him. Dad, I hope you’re watching. I love you daddy. This one's for you.”
Asked at the post-match press conference about her father’s health, she said, “He’s okay. He just had some things to do. Just for the past three days he was just so upset that he couldn’t make it down. Yeah, he’s doing good.
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“But I wanted him to know that I’m thinking about him. I’ll take this trophy home and put it in his house.”
Top-ranked Williams has beaten Suarez-Navarro all five times they’ve played, and Suarez Navarro had won just 10 games in their previous four meetings. Three of the victories have taken less than an hour, including a 53-minute drubbing at the 2013 U.S. Open quarterfinals on Suarez Navarro’s 25th birthday. That same season, Williams knocked the Spaniard out of the Rome quarterfinals in 56 minutes.
Asked if she expected the match to be that lopsided, Suarez Navarro said: “Yes, always. When I play Serena, I know that she’s the best. She has the game to make me play bad.”
Williams won the final 10 games as she overpowered the 5-foot-4 Suarez Navarro, who will make her top-10 debut next week. Williams won 21 of 22 points on her first serve, and had 29 winners to three for Suarez Navarro.
Williams improved her record on Key Biscayne to 73-7. This was her third title here in a row.
The final was anticlimactic after Thursday night’s dramatic semifinal against Simona Halep, when an electric Stadium Crowd (many of them Romanians rooting for Halep) watched as Williams lost the second set but rallied to win 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 6-3.
Known for her fist pumps, shouts of “C’mon!” and leaps of celebration after wins, Williams was relatively subdued during and after Saturday’s final. She said it was because she didn’t want to over-celebrate such a one-sided result.
“When you’re winning 5-Love, 40-Love, it’s not a surprise that you go on to win,” she said. “It’s not in your face like, ‘I’m up 5-Love and I won and I’m going to jump up really high.’ It’s different if it’s 5-all or 7-5 and you don’t know which way it’s going to turn.”
The American, 33, becomes only the fourth woman after Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert to win the same WTA tournament at least eight times. Navratilova, who won the Chicago tournament 12 times, was on hand to hand Williams the trophy.
Asked if she thinks she might get to 12 titles in Miami, Williams smiled and replied: “I hope not. Because I would still be here, and I would be how old? (counting on fingers). Let’s pray that I don’t get to 12.”
Williams was the heavy favorite entering Saturday’s final, but Suarez Navarro said she felt confident that she could make things complicated for Williams with her heavy topspin and one-handed sliced backhand.
But Williams hadn’t lost a set to a player with a one-handed backhand since the 2010 Australian Open final (Justine Henin). Her last loss to a player with a one-handed backhand was the 2007 U.S. Open (to Henin).
Suarez’s style could have disrupted Williams’ game, but the American No. 1 took control early and never let the Spaniard get into her rhythm.
“I didn’t have a plan to hit it to her backhand or forehand,” Williams said. “That’s never really my plan. I just play my game. I’m not the kind of player that’s like, ‘Oh, her forehand is weak, so I’m going to hit 100 percent there.”
Whatever her plan was, it worked. And her father, the man who coached and helped raise two of the greatest female athletes in history, would have been proud had he been in the stands. Between them, Serena and 16th-ranked Venus have won 26 Grand Slam titles (19 for Serena, seven for Venus) and $97 million in prize money.
Before and after the match, Alicia Keys’ song “Girl on Fire” blared through the speakers. Yes, Williams was still on fire. In her 11th final on Key Biscayne. And there is no indication the flame will be extinguished any time soon.