Issued on • Modified
Serena Williams hunts more tennis glory at Miami Open
World Number One Serena Williams will go into the final of the Miami Open against the Spanish 12th seed Carla Suarez Navarro as the overwhelming favourite. But Suarez Navarro seems full of confidence, even though she failed to take a set off the American in their four previous meetings.
Top seed Serena Williams scraped into Saturday's final after a two hour slugfest with the Romanian third seed Simona Halep. It was 7-5 in the decider.
The woman who stands in her way - Carla Suárez Navarro - had an easier passage into the showdown dispatching the German ninth seed Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-3.
On paper that's as good as it should get for the Spanish 12th seed. She's played Williams four times on the circuit since 2010. The two defeats on the hardcourts came at the Australian Open and the US Open and the losses on clay were in the fourth round in Madrid last year and in the quarter-finals at the Rome Open in 2013.
But the 26-year-old from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria will go into the final full of confidence. After nine years on the WTA tour she entered the Miami tournament at a career high of 12 and she'll be buoyed after seeing off Petkovic convincingly in the semi-final.
By reaching the final Suarez Navarro's cracked the top 10, becoming just the third Spanish woman to attain such heights after after Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez.
With Williams in her 10th Miami final and looking for an eighth crown, the Spaniard will have nothing to lose. And Williams concurs.
"Carla was young when I played her all those times," she said. "The older these players get, the better they get. I can't take it for granted. She's in the final here and she beat my sister, so obviously she's doing great."
But 33-year-old Williams is skilled in coping with the pressure of being favourite and performing under those circumstances. Miami is also a happy hunting ground for the younger Williams sister.
She first claimed the title in 2002, older sibling Venus having triumphed in 1998, 1999 and 2001. Since then she has been the woman to beat. She has the accolade of having won the most crowns - seven - and holds the record at the Crandon Park venue for being the oldest woman to win the championship - last year at the age of 32 and 184 days.
Suárez Navarro also has a chance of making history. Should she win, it will be the biggest title of her career and after eliminating Venus Williams in the quarter-finals, she has the opportunity to join seven other players who've managed to beat Venus and Serena Williams at a tournament.