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Djokovic Remains Perfect, Azarenka Claims Title at Sony Ericsson Miami

April 4, 2011 04:08 PM
mediawall-miamiNovak Djokovic remained undefeated through the first three months of 2011 after a thrilling final victory over world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, and Victoria Azarenka claimed her second career Sony Ericsson Open title over the weekend in Miami.

RELATED: 2011 Sony Ericsson Open Photo Gallery

Djokovic defeated Nadal for the second consecutive tournament in a row following Indian Wells. In Miami on Sunday he prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in what became a physical contest in the Miami heat and humidity.

"As I said on the court, it was one of the closest and best finals that I have played ever," Djokovic told reporters after the match.

It was a rare sight as the fit and confident Djokovic outlasted an exhausted Nadal in the final set.

"I was very tired at the end," Nadal said. "Think I played a little bit better the beginning of last week's final. I was there fighting until the last point...nothing left in my body right now, so that's the sport. I love these kinds of matches."

Djokovic improved to 24-0 on the season, with 26 wins in a row dating to last year's Davis Cup final win for Serbia. Nadal was not hesitant in assessing the large number of ranking points he has to defend through Wimbledon, and the world No. 2-ranked Djokovic's chances of claiming the No. 1 ranking for the first time.

"I think he's going to be No. 1," Nadal said. "I don't feel he's breathing on my neck...but he won two tournaments in a row right now, very big tournaments, [and] one Grand Slam. Normal thing is he will be No. 1 in the next month, month and a half, two months. I don't know. Depends on my results on clay."

Nadal dropped to 0-3 in career Miami finals, as did Maria Sharapova after losing to Azarenka 6-1, 6-4 in the Saturday final.

Azarenka struggled early on in the event, needing three sets to win her first three matches, but found her stride in the final against the former No. 1-ranked Russian, who quickly found herself trailing 6-1, 4-0.

"It's a bit too late to pick up the pace when you're down a set and 4-0," said Sharapova, who rallied to win four of the next five games before Azarenka closed out the match. "I wish I picked it up earlier. Against a player like her you have to have that level from the start or she's going to go with it and only get better."

Azarenka was a question mark to participate in the event after retiring in her quarterfinal match at Indian Wells with a hip injury. En route to the final the Belarussian defeated world No. 2 Kim Clijsters and world No. 3 Vera Zvonareva, both in straight sets. Against Sharapova, Azarenka entered the final with the game plan of out-powering the power player.

"She likes to swing big when she has the time, so I tried to take time away from her," Azarenka said. "It seemed she was missing a lot because of my game. In the end she stepped it up -- I wasn't doing anything wrong, she was just going for her shots. I had to really hang in there and keep playing my game."

Azarenka also claimed the Miami title in 2009, and improved to 6-6 in career finals.

"I changed my mentality a bit," Azarenka said. "I'm enjoying myself so much on the court that there's no room for frustration. People want to see me emotional -- they like it -- but this is how I am right now. I just don't care if I lose. I'm just there to do the best I can. What I mean by not caring about losing is just not creating such a big drama out of it. If you lose, you lose. It's not the end of the world. It sounds a bit out there, but with what happened in Japan, for example, we're here playing tennis, being able to do something we love. So why make a big deal out of it?"

 
 

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