Serena Rules Rome
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Serena Williams captured her first title of 2016 by defeating Madison Keys in the final of the Internazionali BNL Italia in Rome.
The world number one went down an early break as Keys came out firing, but Williams was able to break back at 2-3. The pair exchanged big serves and powerful ground strokes all the way to a tiebreak. And whilst there were no more break points after 2-3, the tiebreak saw plenty of service mini breaks, but it was Serena who got the crucial point to take the opener 7-6(5).
The top seed took control with a double break in the second set, but Serena had problems closing it out. Keys broke back, was broken again, then Serena failed to serve out the match. She would not get another chance however as she quickly broke her opponent again to seal the match and the title.
“I feel like it was important for me to just go out there like usual,” she said in her post-match press conference. “It’s a totally new match, it’s a different week, you know, and hopefully just win one. If not, hope for next time, next week.”
The win gives Serena a huge confidence boost heading into her French Open title defence. The American had a poor start to the season by her standards, failing to collect a title until now. This is her first for an incredible nine months.
For Keys however, it was still a great week. Her win over Garbine Muguruza was in particular a very impressive power display, even on a surface that she has usually struggled on.
“I think no matter how many times you play Serena, you always go in and you can just feel her presence,” Keys said after the match. “That’s always an extra thing that you have to be worried about during the match.
“But for me today it really wasn’t so much about how big the tournament was or anything like that. It was really just wanting to go out and do my best and give my best performance.”
The doubles title was won by Sania Mirza and Msrtina Hingis. The top team in the world defeated Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova in the final.