When Li Na jumped out to a 5-2 lead over Serena Williams in the first set of the 2014 Sony Open women’s final, I knew it was over. For Li Na. I’ve seen it happen many times before. Highly ranked players get leads on Serena, looking as if they will break long losing streaks. Then Williams raises her game and opponents start hearing the footsteps. Next thing you know, they’ve lost 5, 6, 7 or more games in a row in the blink of an eye. In the 2013 Sony Open women’s final, Maria Sharapova was up a set and up a break at 3-2 in the second set. She didn’t win another game. Serena reeled off 10 games in a row to beat Masha, 4-6 6-3 6-0. In the 2014 semifinals, Sharapova raced out to a 4-1 lead before Williams gained control and won 6-4 6-3. So when Li Na went up, I knew she would have to play even better than she had in getting the lead if she wanted to finish Serena off. Instead, Williams won her 7th Sony Open title by winning 11 of the next 12 games for a 7-5 6-1 victory. After somewhat of a slow start to 2014, Serena looks poised to reassert her dominance over the women’s tennis landscape.
Last year, Martina Hingis teamed up with Daniela Hantuchova to play a handful of tournaments as a doubles pair. Results were decidedly mixed. Hingis didn’t play the fall season. It looked like the experiment was over. In January 2014, Hingis coached Sabine Lisicki at the Australian Open. It was only supposed to be a one time favor, but the two clicked and Martina joined Lisicki’s team again in Dubai. Generally speaking, student and teacher don’t pair up to play doubles on the pro tour, but these two did. It was a good decision. I think Lisicki adds an element of power serving that complements Martina’s finesse as a doubles team. In only their second event together, as an unseeded wildcard, they won the 2014 Sony Open women’s doubles title. Along the way, they gave the tennis world spectacular drama in fighting off 7 match points in their quarterfinal contest. In the final, they split the first two sets against 2nd seeded Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova before falling behind 3-5 in the third set super tiebreak. 7 was the magic number again as Martina and Sabine won the final 7 points of the match to take the title 4-6 6-4 10-5. It was Martina’s 38th WTA doubles title, but the first since 2007.
In what was possibly his most complete match in a long time, Novak Djokovic dominated Rafael Nadal 6-3 6-3 to take the 2014 Sony Open men’s singles title. The scoreline might not appear as lopsided as the match was. Never did it seem like Nadal would win this match. Nole’s backhand, the best in tennis, was as lethal and sharp as ever. But so was every other stroke, especially Djoker’s serve. It took the the tenacity of Rafa’s never say die attitude to keep the score respectable. With the win, Novak Djokovic pulled off the Indian Wells-Miami mini-Major back to back double for the second time in his career. The only other player with multiple Indian Wells-Miami doubles is Roger Federer, whom Djokovic beat two weeks ago in the Indian Wells final. The win gives Djokovic his 4th Sony Open title. The question going into the clay court season is will Nole keep up this level of play. If he does, maybe this will be the year he fills the last hole in his tennis resumé, winning Roland Garros.
Speaking of the Indian Wells-Miami double, the Bryan Brothers, Mike and Bob, completed their first such double taking the Sony Open men’s doubles title 7-6 (8) 6-4 over the Colombian tandem of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. In addition to being their first Indian Wells-Miami double, it is their 3rd Sony Open title (the first since 2008) and their amazing 96th overall ATP doubles championship. I hope the American tennis public truly appreciates what Mike and Bob are accomplishing. We might never see a doubles team like this again.
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE
1 SERENA WILLIAMS (won 7-5 6-1 vs 2 Li Na)
WC MARTINA HINGIS & SABINE LISICKI (won 4-6 6-4 10-5 vs 2 Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina)
2 NOVAK DJOKOVIC (won 6-3 6-3 vs 1 Rafael Nadal)
1 MIKE BRYAN & BOB BRYAN (won 7-6 (8) 6-4 vs Juan Sebastian Cabal & Robert Farah)