Serena Williams Beats Li Na for Sony Open Title

Williams surpassed the tournament record of six titles she shared with Andre Agassi.

By Steven Wine
|  Saturday, Mar 29, 2014  |  Updated 3:47 PM EDT
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Serena Williams Beats Li Na for Sony Open Title

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KEY BISCAYNE, FL - MARCH 20: Serena Williams returns a shot to Yaroslava Shedova of Kazakhstan during the Sony Open at the Crandon Park Tennis Center on March 20, 2014 in Key Biscayne, Florida. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Serena Williams won a record seventh Key Biscayne title Saturday when she overcame a slow start and a set point to beat Li Na 7-5, 6-1 at the Sony Open.

Williams surpassed the tournament record of six titles she shared with Andre Agassi.

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. Li held a set point serving at 5-4, but Williams erased it with a backhand winner.

She needed another 21 minutes to pull out the set. The final game of the set went to deuce six times, but Williams 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.

It's 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 less than her best. She made only 44 percent of her first serves and converted just five of 17 break-point chances.

Even so, Williams extended her winning streak against top-10 opponents to 15 matches.

The world's top-ranked players will also meet in the men's final Sunday, when No. 1 Rafael Nadal tries for his first Key Biscayne title against No. 2 Novak Djokovic, a three-time champion.

Williams lives 90 minutes up I-95 from Key Biscayne and considers it her home event. She has played in the tournament 14 times and won the title in 2002-04, 2007-08 and 2013.

Her earlier finals victories came against Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Justine Henin, Elena Dementieva and Jennifer Capriati twice. She also lost finals to her sister Venus in 1999 and to Victoria Azarenka in 2009.

Li, who won the Australian Open in January, was at the top of her game for most of the first set. Even so, she couldn't close it out

Williams committed six unforced errors in the opening game, and it took her 16 minutes to win a game. She double-faulted to fall behind 5-2, and the comeback came slowly from there.

The first set lasted 73 minutes, longer than many of Williams' matches.

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