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Serena Soars To Istanbul Title
With a barrage of winners from every part of her game - from the serve and off the return, off the ground and at the net, a whopping 40 in all - Serena Williams overpowered Maria Sharapova to complete a dream season at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012.
There was a lot pointing Williams' way going into the match - winning 47 of her last 49 matches, an 11-match winning streak against Top 2 players, and perhaps most importantly a nine-match winning streak against Sharapova.
And although it wasn't easy by any means, all of those trends continued as Williams held all nine of her service games and broke Sharapova three times - once in the first set, twice in the second set - to score a 64 63 win Sunday night, rifling a string of forehand winners in the last few points of the match.
"I actually thought about the last time we played at the WTA Championships, and she won, and she's also ranked ahead of me right now, so I really had nothing to lose," Williams jubilated. "I feel great right now. This was exactly my dream and I'm so happy I was able to achieve it. And the Turkish fans here are so amazing, so nice and so supportive - I've never seen so many signs with my name on them. I can't even explain how that makes me feel."
Williams finished the match with an incredible +26 differential of winners to unforced errors (40 to 14) while Sharapova finished at +1 (13 to 12).
Williams captured her seventh WTA title of the year, following triumphs at Charleston, Madrid, Wimbledon, Stanford, the Olympics and the US Open - it is her second-best season total, after capturing eight back in 2002.
"I would say it's pretty much the best season of my career, a little bit of a slow start though, so I have to give it to 2002 - but there's always 2013," she said.
They were the last team in, and now they're the last team standing - Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova had a dream weekend in Istanbul, defeating the Top 2 teams in the world and winning their biggest WTA title at the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships - Istanbul 2012.
Last Saturday, Kirilenko and Petrova beat Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears in the semifinals of Moscow, a match that would determine who the fourth and final qualifying team for the WTA Championships would be.
But Kirilenko and Petrova were still the last team in and thus the biggest longshot, and it wasn't an easy week, particularly to start, as they were totally outclassed in the first set of their first match against Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci, 6-1; but after that they never looked back, taking out the No.1 seeds, 16 63 104, then on Sunday taking out No.2 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 61 64, Kirilenko fighting off two break points while serving for the match and the Russians winning it on a return from the Czechs that sailed long.
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