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Serena, Nikolay Conquer Miami
After two weeks of play, they won their respective titles at the Sony Ericsson Open
Rick Capone (racapone)     Print Article 
Published 2008-04-09 05:56 (KST)   
It's one of the most beautiful places to play tennis in the world.

You drive down the southeast coast of Florida along the concrete highway known as I-95, past all of the interchanges until you reach Miami. Then you head east along more concrete by-ways, and pass all of the colorful high-rise office and condominium buildings that dot the city skyline.

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Then the scenery changes -- dramatically.

After paying a small toll, you cross the calm azure waters of Biscayne Bay on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Finally, under the blistering Florida sun, rises a lush green oasis called Crandon Park, home of the Tennis Center of Crandon Park where the Sony Ericsson Open is played.

There, this past fortnight, one player re-established herself as a force to be reckoned with this season, while another player scored a small bit of redemption.

She's Back

Serena Williams, who is currently ranked No. 9 in the world, gave notice that she is someone to watch this tennis season. After struggling a little in the second and third sets of the championship final, Williams defeated No. 3-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 to win her fifth Sony Ericsson Open title. Only Andre Agassi has won more Sony Ericsson Open titles, as he won six in his career.

Williams, who played solidly throughout the tournament, including dismantling the No. 1-ranked player in the world, Justine Henin, in the quarterfinals, 6-1, 6-0, started out the final on cruise control, winning the first set 6-1. Enjoying somewhat of a home court advantage in Miami (she lives about 90 minutes north of the tennis facility), she seemed destined to easily win the title. However, Jankovic had other plans for her opponent.

After taking a 3-0 lead in the second, Jankovic, who had beaten Williams earlier this year in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, finally got her game on track, fought back hard and took the second set 6-3.

Williams then stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the third set, only to see Jankovic begin to fight her way back into the match once again. At one point, in a moment of complete frustration, Williams slammed her racket into the ground. However, she managed to regain her composure, get her groundstrokes working again and closed out the match with a powerful overhead on the final point to win the event.

"Jelena is a great fighter," Williams said of her opponent afterwards in an article that appeared on the Sony Ericsson Web site. "I think the crowd was really into the match, and I have so many friends here, it's like playing at home."

Redemption -- at Least a Little!

Nikolay Davydenko has been in the middle of one of the ugliest controversies to hit the sport of tennis. For the last year, he has been battling to save his reputation because of accusations that he was involved in a match-fixing scheme.

Whether he is guilty or not guilty is something for another day. On Sunday, it was all about his tennis, and how masterful he was over the course of the two-week tournament.

In a very entertaining championship match, Davydenko, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the world, held off Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 6-2 to win his first Sony Ericsson Open title.

With the win, Davydenko became the first Russian male player to win the event in its 24-year history.

"It's the second time I've on a Masters Series title, and for me it's important because I've been fighting in every match," he said in an article that appeared on Yahoo! News. The other Masters Series title he won was the 2006 Masters Crown in Paris.

"He was playing unbelievable tennis and there was nothing I could do," said Nadal in the second article. The No. 2 player in the world is still seeking his first title of the year.

To reach the final, Davydenko had to defeat a very "hot" Andy Roddick 7-6(5), 6-2. Roddick reached the semifinal after winning what was probably the match of the tournament, a quarterfinal win over No. 1-ranked Roger Federer, whose struggles continue this year. The young American won the match 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3 to gain only his second victory over Federer in 17 tries.

In the championship match, Davydenko and Nadal played close in the first set, but on the second set point, Nadal sent a backhand out to give the young Russian a 1-0 lead.

The second set began with Davydenko breaking Nadal's serve. From there he took control, broke Nadal again in the fifth game and then closed out the match on the second match point to win the title,

All in all, it was another exciting tennis tournament in Miami and sets things up for an even more exciting 2008 season yet to come, with the French Open and Wimbledon just around the corner.
©2008 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Rick Capone

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