Sharapova rout is 'best ever'

2007-01-27 13:17
<b>Serena Williams holds her trophy after winning the women's singles final against Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open in Melbourne. (Andrew Brownbill, AP)</b>

Serena Williams holds her trophy after winning the women's singles final against Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open in Melbourne. (Andrew Brownbill, AP)

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Melbourne - Australian Open champion Serena Williams said her 6-1 6-2 destruction of top seed Maria Sharapova in the final was among the finest victories of her career.

The 25-year-old American added a third Australian Open crown to her collection by battering the top seed in 63 one-sided minutes on Saturday to seal her eighth grand slam title.

But instead of coming into the tournament with a high ranking and rated among the favourites, the unseeded world number 81 had to battle through the draw, ending the hopes of five seeds before her crowning moment against the Russian world number one elect.

"This one's right up there with the top," said a jubilant Williams. She will rise to 14th in the rankings.

"I was driven. This morning I woke up and felt different, I felt good. I'm happy, I'm confident, not nervous. It's an awesome feeling."

Sharapova, who suffered her first defeat in a grand slam final, had looked far from her best throughout the tournament.

Her frailty and inability to change her game were cruelly exposed by the supremely athletic Williams.

'It's difficult to beat me'

"My plan was to play my game and I finally played it for the first time this tournament," said Williams. "That's how I was raised to play that game of tennis, it's the Serena I've been trying to showcase for years and years.

"I've said from the beginning when I'm playing well it's difficult for anyone to beat me on the women's tour because I have a unique style, a unique game. Tennis is what I was born to do."

An injury-plagued 2006 saw Williams plummet down the rankings and play in only four tournaments, but she sounded an ominous warning to her rivals as she promised to ratchet her game up to an even higher level.

"I'm ready for the clay courts, I want to take my game to a new level," she said. "I'm definitely playing more than four tournaments this year."

Williams admitted there had been sticky moments in her incredible run at Melbourne Park, most notably in her third-round match against Nadia Petrova and the quarter-final against Israeli Shahar Peer.

"I lost the first set in both matches, I had to come back physically and mentally and that really helped," she said. "Thank God I was able to go through a rough road before I got to the final."

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