NOVAK Djokovic tamed world No 1 Rafa Nadal 6-3, 6-3 to claim his fourth Sony Open title yesterday, denying the Spaniard a maiden win on the Miami hardcourts.
It was the second straight Masters series title for the second-ranked Serb, who defeated Roger Federer in the BNP Paribas Open two weeks ago in Indian Wells.
The Miami title continues to be one of the few to elude Nadal, who has now finished runner-up four times at Crandon Park, twice beaten in the final by yesterday’s victor.
The 40th meeting between Nadal and Djokovic added another line to what has grown into one of tennis’s great rivalries with the Spaniard holding a 22-18 edge.
Djokovic, who becomes only the second player after Federer to have won back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami on two separate occasions, said at his trophy presentation: “I played a great match from the start to the end, everything was working really well.
“Bad luck Rafa, it’s always a challenge and always a pleasure to play against you and congratulations for a good week and good luck for the rest of the season.”
He added: “It feels great, I’m thrilled with my performance, it’s been a fantastic day. I’m overwhelmed with the game I played.
“All in all it was an incredible tournament for me and the best performance at the right time.”
Nadal said: “I want to congratulate Novak and his team, he did amazing with two great events in a row, winning in Indian Wells and now winning in Miami, that’s very difficult to do, so just well done.”
The previous day, Serena Williams won a record seventh Key Biscayne title when she overcame a slow start and a set point to beat Li Na 7-5, 6-1. Williams surpassed the tournament record of six titles she shared with Andre Agassi. But on a muggy spring afternoon, the No 1-ranked Williams looked sluggish at the outset and served poorly, and she was broken twice to fall behind 5-2.
“At that moment I felt like I had nothing to lose,” Williams said. “Whenever I relax, I enjoy myself.”
Li held a set point serving at 5-4, but Williams erased it with a backhand winner. Williams needed another 21 minutes to pull out the set. The final game of the set went to deuce six times, but she finally won it with a booming backhand that Li couldn’t handle.
Williams ran to her chair with a satisfied scream, her left fist leading the way. She dominated from there, sweeping the final five games, and closed out the victory with a service winner.
After a succession of happy hops, she was twirling, waving, laughing and mugging for the camera – a familiar ritual from a familiar champion.
“I think we’re going to have to rename this tournament,” former top-five player Mary Joe Fernandez said during the trophy ceremony.
That was a commentary on the yawning gap between Williams and the rest of the women’s tour that she won in straight sets against the No 2-ranked player while playing some way short of her best.