No. 1 Serena Williams continued her undefeated start to the 2015 season, winning her record eighth Miami Open title by defeating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 on Saturday. Serena needed just 56 minutes to capture her second title of the season and 66th WTA title overall, moving her record to 18-0 on the season.
The match was one-way traffic from the outset. In the first game of the match, Serena held serve at love thanks to three winners and a punctuating ace. The match followed that script from there. Williams hit seven aces, 27 winners and 16 unforced errors. Suarez Navarro, playing in her first Premier Mandatory final, managed just three winners to 21 unforced errors.
Here are three thoughts from the match:
A historic season could be in the books
Is it too early to bring this up? Yes. But I'm going to do it anyway. After winning the Australian Open in January to capture her 19th major, much of the discussion surrounding Serena was whether she could catch or surpass Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 major titles. Serena, a woman who prefers not to add any more pressure by talking about records, admitted the number was on her mind.
But the way Serena is playing to start the 2015 season, the Calendar Grand Slam watch is on. The same can be said on the men's side with how well Novak Djokovic is playing these days, but the domination gap is so much wider for Williams. The biggest question mark, as always, will be the upcoming clay season. Can Serena play enough to maintain her confidence while also keeping her body healthy for the French Open? A two-time Roland Garros champion, it's been her least successful major, but if she can walk away with the title there, we're officially on history watch. So long as she's healthy she'll undoubtedly be the favorite to win both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Get Serena early or don't get her at all
Serena is vulnerable in the early stages of tournaments. It takes her time to play herself into form and she can underestimate her lower-ranked opposition. Watch her in her first two rounds at nearly any tournament and you don't always see the swaggering gait and effortless serve. Her face reads nothing other than doubt and stress, as if she's struggling to remind herself of her greatness.
But when it comes to championship weekend, there is no better closer in sports. How good is Serena once she gets to a final? She is now 66-17 in finals and hasn't lost a set in her last nine. The last time it happened was against Li Na in the 2013 WTA Finals and the last time she lost a final was in '13 in Cincinnati. You know the old adage: A healthy, confident and motivated Serena is the best tennis player on earth. Her performances when a title is on the line is the definition of "clutch".
A milestone for Suarez Navarro
Playing in the biggest final of her career, Suarez Navarro was completely overmatched. She was 0-4 against Serena going into the match and had won just 10 games off the American. Sometimes matchups leave you behind the eight-ball. Just ask Maria Sharapova.
Suarez Navarro has always been a talent. The 26-year-old from the Canary Islands announced herself back in 2009 when she stunned Serena's sister Venus in the second round of the Australian Open. She quickly took the torch from Justine Henin as the WTA flag-bearer for the one-handed backhand. Consistency and mental toughness remained the roadblocks in her game.
On Monday she will become just the third Spanish woman to crack the top 10. She has done so not necessarily via titles—she won her first and only title last year at a small tournament in Portugal—but with consistency. In 2015 she has made the quarterfinals or better at every tournament in which she's played except the Australian Open. Quiet and shy with a humility that can, at times, be a detriment to her game, she's a well-liked player in the WTA locker room. It's nice to see all her off-season training pay off.