Williams and Li Na proving age is no barrier to success

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18 till I die: Li Na (l) and Serena Williams (r) share a few laughs during the trophy ceremony of the Sony Open in Miami.

They may be 32-years-old but Serena Williams and Li Na are ruling both the court and the world rankings with the fire of a pair of teenagers.

As the world’s top-two players, Williams and Li continue to deliver some of the most exciting matches on the WTA tour and the Miami final on Saturday was no exception.

The top-seeded Williams battled from a double-break down in the opening set to overcome the Chinese and clinch a record-breaking seventh Miami crown.

As they received their trophies at Crandon Park, the finalists were giggling about the success they can still enjoy so advanced in their career.

“I said I was happy for her, and us, and how we’re doing,” Williams said of their conversation during the trophy ceremony. “We’re playing great tennis and we’re No1 and No2, and we’re both the same age. We’re living the same life, and at this stage, to be on top, I don’t think it’s been done before, and I think it’s really awesome.

“I feel a connection with her that I just love. I just really like her as a person and as a player, and I have so much respect for her.

“I feel like we both have this never-give-up fight. It shows that you can still shine at any age.”

Li, who captured her second grand slam title at the Australian Open last January, is enjoying the best season start of her career (has a 22-3 win-loss record in 2014) and says she doesn’t feel that age is catching up to her.

“I’m a young 32. And I feel like tennis has changed a little bit now because it’s not only about your technique, it’s more mental and physical too, and I’m taking care of myself well and know what I have to do before I come to the court,” said the world No2.

The tennis season will now make a rapid shift to clay and Li is hoping she can improve on her results on the surface compared to last year.

She has had tremendous success on clay in the past, picking up the French Open title in 2011.

“I’ll try to do better than last year, because last year I was pretty confident coming to the clay court season, and I only did well in the first tournament and lost early at the others. So we’ll see,” says Li.

Williams will have no time to rest as she headlines the field in Charleston this week, where she is a two-time defending champion.

She will be joined on the green clay of South Carolina by Jelena Jankovic, Sloane Stephens, Eugenie Bouchard, and Venus Williams.

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Djokovic crushes Nadal to win Miami Masters title

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Crushing win: Djokovic celebrates after securing his fourth Miami crown.

Novak Djokovic dominated world No1 Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3, to win his fourth Miami Masters title and record his 14th victory in 21 hard court meetings with the Spaniard.

Djokovic is only the second player – alongside Roger Federer – to complete the Indian Wells-Miami sweep on two separate occasions and he has now taken his winning streak to 10 consecutive matches (not including his two walkovers in Miami).

In their 40th showdown, Nadal, who was gunning for a record-extending 27th Masters 1000 title, had a strong start, forcing Djokovic to save a break point in the opening game.

But the Serb quickly found his footing, taking the ball early and moving Nadal around the court to get his first of two break points in the sixth game with a backhand winner that clipped the baseline.

And indeed Djokovic stormed ahead, breaking for a 4-2 lead when a Nadal crosscourt backhand sailed long.

It was all the world No2 needed to take the first set and he then broke in the opening game of the second set to take control of the match.

Djokovic always seemed in control of the match and by the ninth game of the set he was able to bring up two championship points on the Nadal serve. 

The Spaniard was determined to make Djokovic serve for the victory but he was helpless as the Serb snatched the title in tremendous fashion, pulling off a reactionary half-volley to pass Nadal before falling to the ground in celebration. 

Djokovic is now second in the all-time winners list in Miami with four titles, two short of Andre Agassi who holds the record.

The 26-year-old has now won his last three matches against Nadal, but still trails the Mallorcan 18-22 in their head-to-head record. 

After the victory Djokovic said: "I played a great match from the start to the end, everything was working really well.

"Bad luck Rafa, it's always a challenge and always a pleasure to play against you and congratulations for a good week and good luck for the rest of the season.

A gracious Nadal added: "I want to congratulate Novak and his team, he did amazing with two great events in a row, winning in Indian Wells and now winning in Miami, that's very difficult to do, so just well done."

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Serena soars to seventh heaven in Miami

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Warrior princess: Serena Williams triumphed over Australian Open champion Li Na.

World No1 Serena Williams won the Miami WTA title for the seventh time with a 7-5, 6-1 win over China’s Li Na.

In a battle of the world’s top two players, the US superstar took her tally of WTA titles to 59. She added a second trophy in 2014 to the one she lifted in Brisbane in January.

The 32-year-old Williams, who first played at Miami as a 16-yearold, was strangely subdued as she seemed to sleepwalk through the first half hour of the match.

Trailing 4-2, she fought off three break points in the seventh game only to surrender her serve for a second time on a double fault.

Williams fought back by winning the next five games to take the set, saving a set point in the 10th game and hanging on to break Li in a 12th game that went to deuce six times.

The American delivered just three aces in a match that lasted just under two hours, and landed just 42 per cent of her first serves.

She seized a 5-1 lead in the second set with a fierce backhand winner on her fifth break point of the game and wrapped up the contest on her first match point.

Li, the reigning Australian Open champion, has now lost 10 straight matches against Williams. Her only victory in their 12 meetings was back in 2008.

On how much her seventh Miami success means to her, Williams said: “It was really important especially playing against Li Na. She started out so well and I just thought ‘oh my gosh I just need to hang in there’.

“Really at that moment (down a double break) I felt that I had nothing to lose and I was able to relax.”

Williams is the fourth woman in the Open era to win the same tournament seven times, joining Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

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