Skip to comments.Williams routs Sharapova, wins eighth Grand Slam title
Posted on 01/26/2007 9:22:15 PM PST by jazzo
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams won her eighth and most improbable Grand Slam title, overwhelming top-seeded Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 in the Australian Open on Saturday.
Only the second unseeded woman to win the Australian title in the Open era, Williams came into the tournament ranked No. 81 after spending most of last season on the sidelines because of a knee injury.
"I'm really enjoying this!" said Williams, who will jump to No. 14 next week.
It was her first title in 15 tournaments since winning the 2005 Australian Open, and the most dominating win in a completed championship match at Melbourne Park since Steffi Graf beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 6-0, 6-2 in 1994.
Williams finished off Sharapova with a backhand winner, then threw her racket in the air and dropped onto her back on the court.
The 25-year-old American, also the 2003 champion, got up and skipped over to the side of the court, swapping high-fives with mother Oracene Price and other people in the stands before jogging back onto court with her arms up in triumph.
"I'd like to thank my mom. I was a bad student this fortnight," Williams said. "I yelled at her, said some things under my breath. But she just kept coming. I really appreciate it."
Williams dedicated the title to her half-sister, Yetunde Price, who was shot to death in 2003.
"Most of all I would like to dedicate this win to my sister, who's not here. Her name is Yetunde. I just love her so much," she said, her voice cracking. "I'll try not to get teary-eyed but I said a couple of days ago, if I win this it's going to be for her. So thanks Tunde."
Chris O'Neill, who was ranked No. 111 when she won the 1978 title, was the only other unseeded woman to win an Australian Open.
Sharapova had no answers to Williams' power in her worst loss in a Grand Slam tournament.
"You can never underestimate her as a performer. ... I know what she's capable of and she showed that today," said Sharapova, who will assume the No. 1 ranking from Justine Henin. "She has showed it many, many times.
Williams saved match points in her semifinal win over Sharapova here two years ago before beating Lindsay Davenport in the final.
Williams started aggressively and never relented in the kind of form that helped her dominate women's tennis as she completed the "Serena Slam" with four consecutive majors up to the 2003 Australian Open.
She held to open and then won 12 straight points after Sharapova had a game point in the next to jump to a 4-0 lead. Williams saved a break point in the fifth game before Sharapova held at love to make it 5-1.
Williams served out, taking the first set in 26 minutes on her second set point when Sharapova sent a backhand service return wide.
The American broke Sharapova's serve and resolve again to open the second set, then had consecutive double-faults to give the 19-year-old Russian a break point chance in the next game. In a manner typical of her determined performance Saturday, Williams fired an ace to save the break point and held on back-to-back errors by Sharapova.
Williams led 4-0 before Sharapova held again, avoiding the most lopsided women's final ever in the Australian Open.
Serving for the match, Williams fired two aces to earn triple match point, then finished it off in 1 hour, 3 minutes with the backhand winner.
With occasional showers and a strong wind outside, the roof was closed on packed Rod Laver Arena.
Williams missed nine tournaments immediately after losing in the third round at the Australian Open last year and played only 16 matches in 2006, when she slumped as low as No. 140 in the rankings.
Despite only having three matches at a low-key warmup tournament in Hobart, she had was fit enough to advance over five seeded players.
Her win over No. 5 Nadia Petrova in the third round was her first over a top-10 player since she won the 2005 tournament.
Sharapova came into the match on a 13-match winning streak in Grand Slams, having won the U.S. Open last September.
After winning her first-round match in three sets over Camille Pin of France, Sharapova didn't drop a set in five rounds before the final.
In the men's final Sunday, top-ranked Roger Federer is aiming for a 10th major title against Grand Slam final newcomer Fernando Gonzalez.
Gonzalez overpowered Tommy Haas 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals Friday, a night after Federer beat No. 6 Andy Roddick 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.
"He's the No. 1 player in the world by far. ... I lost many times with him," Gonzalez said. "But now I'm playing much better than the last time we played. And it's only one match. I'm going to give everything that I have to try to win my first Slam."
Gonzalez is 0-9 against Federer, who has won nine of his 10 major finals.
Federer's victory over Roddick put him into a seventh consecutive Grand Slam final, tying a record set in 1934 by Jack Crawford.
6-1, 6-2. Ouch!
Foot faults, errors... sounds like Serena psyched Sharapova out!
Did you see the picture of her on the NYTimes website? Not saying she is using steroids....but....well.....somebody should post the photo.....at the very least, she has been hitting the weights.....
It was a major smack down!
Was rooting (sp?) for Serena all the way.
Did she break Babe Ruth's record tonight?
For a woman who has been out of it for as long as she has and the injuries and the weight gain...she mopped the floor tonight.
That's not who we want pictures of.
Yeah all the Russians do that. They move to Florida around the age of 12 to take advantage of year round training.
Where is drug testing in this sport?
Game, set, match Sharapova.
That picture makes one wonder if she isn't the modern-day Renee Richards.
Link to ESPN article
Here's a look at what the 25-year-old American accomplished in winning the year's first Grand Slam:
1 This was her first WTA Tour title -- and first appearance in a tournament final -- since she won the Australian Open in 2005.
2 The second player, joining Chris O'Neil in 1978, to win the Australian Open as an unseeded player.
3 Consecutive years the No. 1 seed has failed to win the Australian Open.
6 The number of seeded players Williams beat en route to winning the Australian Open: No. 27 Mara Santangelo; No. 5 Nadia Petrova; No. 11 Jelena Jankovic; No. 16 Shahar Peer; No. 10 Nicole Vaidisova; and No. 1 Maria Sharapova.
Now that she has done it all in tennis, she should conquer the NFL next year.