Frus­trated Serena edges Halep to set Miami fi­nal against Suarez Navarro

The China Post - - SPORTS -

A frus­trated Serena Wil­liams clawed into her 10th Miami fi­nal on Thurs­day, de­feat­ing Si­mona Halep 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Wil­liams, ap­par­ently rat­tled by the Halep cheer squad who drowned out most of the chants for the home hope, saw her mighty fore­hand desert her in the sec­ond set, in which Halep con­verted the only break point of the set to force a third.

World num­ber one Wil­liams, who cap­tured her 19th Grand Slam ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open this year, re­grouped to seize a 5-2 lead in the third only for the world num­ber three from Ro­ma­nia to battle back.

Fi­nally Wil­liams found a way, and she will bid for an eighth Miami ti­tle against Carla Suarez Navarro.

Spain’s Suarez Navarro earned her place in the big­gest match of her ca­reer with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ger­many’s An­drea Petkovic.

“I was barely able to re­group,” ad­mit­ted a re­lieved Wil­liams. “I was mak­ing so many er­rors and was so frus­trated.

“The only thing that was work­ing for me was com­ing to the net. I’m just happy to get through this one.

“Still, it was ac­tu­ally a fun match, I’m in the fi­nal so that’s un­be­liev­able.”

Wil­liams has won all four of her matches against Suarez Navarro with­out drop­ping a set.

But she said she’d have to play bet­ter to lift the tro­phy yet again in Miami.

Wil­liams swept the first set with ease be­fore Halep, who cap­tured the big­gest ti­tle of her ca­reer at In­dian Wells less than a fort­night ago, found her own rhythm in the sec­ond.

In the third, Wil­liams over­came her nerves and flaky fore­hand to build a 5-2 lead, only for Halep to push the set to 5-all.

How­ever, Wil­liams broke her two games later to pull off the victory.

“I had to dig deep to stay on the court. I could only keep try­ing,” Wil­liams said. “I never gave up and here I am.”

Satur­day’s fi­nal will be the big­gest ca­reer test yet for Suarez Navarro, seeded 12th.

The diminu­tive Spa­niard, who honed her game in the Ca­nary Is­lands, came out on top in a loose match, com­bin­ing with Ger­many’s Petkovic for nearly 60 un­forced er­rors in less than 90 min­utes on court.

Suarez Navarro, who is now poised to break into the top 10 in the world rank­ings, con­verted three of her 10 break point op­por­tu­ni­ties and was never in se­ri­ous trou­ble.

“I played a good match, an im­por­tant match like this is dif­fi­cult,” said the win­ner. “I just tried to play my game and en­joy it.

“Play­ing this fi­nal is an im­por­tant event for me. I train in the off sea­son in hopes of play­ing a fi­nal like this,” added the Spa­niard, whose only WTA ti­tle came in Por­tu­gal last year.

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