She wanted it so badly, she almost let it slip away. But Serena Williams recovered from her lapses and took her first Family Circle Cup title over Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in a well-fought, high-quality battle.
For the Russian's part, her world-class ground strokes and superb court coverage put her right with Serena for the entire match. Had she controlled her nerves a bit better, either of the sets Serena won could've been much tighter.
But Serena was not to be denied a title she so coveted. Aside from the lapses that prompted two double faults on two break points in sets two and three, Serena played like a woman who sees herself holding up another Roland Garros trophy.
It was her third consecutive title (Bangalore, d. Patty Schnyder; Sony Ericsson Open, d. Jelena Jankovic), her second consecutive Tier 1 title, and her first title on clay in nearly six years.
That's right. The last time she took home a championship on the slippery stuff was, well, Roland Garros 2002. We know what happened after that.
Times have changed. But Serena's game is looking as good as it did back then, if not better. A healthy Serena is a dangerous Serena. Always.
He Did It, Too
But he had it handed to him. Roger Federer won his first title of the year when the Man with the Magic Racquet retired in the second set.
Oh well. A win is a win. And I'm sure all his fans feel he was overdue.
He Almost Did It
But this isn't horseshoes. Or hand grenades. James Blake seemed poised to win his first claycourt title at the U.S. Men's Claycourt Championships at the new venue in River Oaks, Texas, but he faltered late in the match to hand the well-earned title to newbie Marcel Granollers-Pujol of Spain.
A win on clay would've given him some confidence on the slippery stuff to help increase our steep chances against Spain in the Davis Cup semifinals, but it wasn't meant to be.
David Ferrer rallied from 2-5 down in the final set when two-time defending champion Nicolas Almagro choked (he served for it twice!) to claim the Valencia title.
Maria Kirilenko won the Estoril Open women's title with a straight-set victory over Iveta Benesova.