O SOLE MIO SERENA

By Craig Gabriel

ROME: Stunning and overwhelming. What more can you say at the moment about Whirlwind Williams. Serena claimed the Internazionali BNP d’Italia in one hour 33 minutes, 6-1, 6-3 over Victoria Azarenka finishing the match with a love game by powering down back-to-back aces and then a backhand winner down the line.

“It was the best I moved all week and I feel fit and hopefully I’ll stay like this,” said Serena who will celebrate the win with pistachio gelato. “Close and the first three games over in 20 minutes and it was not easy out there and nothing is every easy and took the opportunity when I had it and I come up with some good shots.”

This is the second time that Serena has won the title in Rome, the last occasion was back in 2002 (defeated Justine Henin) and in the same year she backed things up and won the French Open as she went on to win the “Serena Slam”. Maybe, just maybe, it could be an omen, although, no doubt Serena will not be looking at it that way.

By the score line, which included 41 winners, you can see that Serena never gave Azarenka an opportunity and it takes their head to head to 12-2 in Serena’s favour. It was by the identical score that Serena beat Vika in their last clay court match, the final in Madrid last year. However going into this Roma final it was Azarenka who won the last time they played which was the Doha final earlier this year.

When the final point was won Serena screamed with joy from the top of her lungs and she raised her left arm in victory waving to the crowd. She had dropped only 14 games the entire tournament and this win has put her on a 24 match win streak, the best of her career. Incredibly she is 33-1 on clay since the start of the clay court season last year. That is a stunning stat.

The Rome title is Serena’s fifth from six finals in 2013 and it is the third time in her career that she has won five or more titles in a season – in 2002 she won eight and in 1999 she won seven.

The incredible figures don’t stop there because this is her 51st career title, the most among active players from 67 finals.

Now all attention swings to Paris and her quest to win a 16th Grand Slam crown. She will also retain the world No.1 ranking through the grass court season.

“It’s definitely different (going into Paris),” said Serena. “Last year I was feeling excellent but didn’t do great and this year I am cautious and I want to work hard and stay focused and win every point hard and not slack at all.”