Serena Williams won her 50th career title in Madrid.
© Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
MADRID (AP) - Serena Williams is still No. 1, and she has No. 50 to go along with it.
Williams beat Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-4, in the final of the Madrid Open on Sunday to retain her top ranking and collect her 50th career title. Sharapova would have moved up to No. 1 with a win, but Williams stormed out to an early lead as the second-ranked Russian struggled with her serve.
Sharapova briefly recovered in the second set, but Williams' form never wavered and she won easily.
"It feels good,'' Williams said about her 50th title. "I don't know how many more I can win. Who knows if I will ever win another title? I just want to live the dream. Hopefully I can keep it going.
"When you first start out everything is so exciting. Now I expect to win.''
Williams improved her record against Sharapova to 13-2, with the two losses coming in 2004.
The 31-year-old Williams, playing in her first red clay final since 2002, took advantage of Sharapova's erratic serve.
"I started the match really slow and against an opponent like her you can't give her that,'' said Sharapova, who had won her previous seven red clay finals. "I wasn't reacting well. I wasn't moving well. Not only the double faults I made, I didn't have a lot of great first serves in. She was really stepping up.''
Sharapova had five double faults in her first three service games, dropping the first two as Williams took the first set. Sharapova earned and converted her first break point to open the second set, opening a 3-1 advantage.
But the former No. 1-ranked player's serve again betrayed her as she hit another double fault to give back her break after Williams had set up three breakers with her precise groundstrokes.
Williams closed out the match after Sharapova recorded her eighth double fault, then hit the ball long.
Last year, Williams won here on the experimental blue clay surface that was removed after complaints from players that it was too slick.
Williams said the move back to red clay worked well as tuneup for the French Open starting later in the month.
"This court is definitely different,'' she said. "It plays like Roland Garros and that is a plus. So I think it is great preparation.''