Azarenka, 19, beats Serena to land Miami title

MIAMI Sat Apr 4, 2009 2:54pm EDT

1 of 4. Victoria Azarenka of Belarus returns a shot to Serena Williams of the U.S. during their women's final match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida April 4, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka, the 19-year-old from Belarus, thrashed world number one Serena Williams 6-3 6-1 to win the Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday.

Williams, heavily strapped on her left thigh, never looked fully mobile and was comfortably beaten in 71 minutes by one of the rising talents in the women's game.

The victory, the first top-tier triumph for Azarenka, stopped the American claiming a record sixth title at Key Biscayne.

It was clear from the outset Williams was not 100 percent fit.

"I'm not one to make excuses, I just want to give Victoria credit today, that's all I can say," she said at the award ceremony.

Azarenka, who will move up to eighth in the new world rankings, was nervous as she served for the match, producing a double-fault and allowing Williams break point.

THIRD VICTORY

However, having secured her third title of the year following victories in Brisbane and Tennessee, she credited increased confidence for her rapid rise into the top 10.

"I've improved almost everything since last year but most of all I am believing in myself a little more, believing I can win tournaments," said the Arizona-based Azarenka.

The Belarus teenager broke serve to go 2-1 up in the first set but was broken straight back, a sign Williams was up for a scrap.

Eleventh seed Azarenka played intelligently, pushing her opponent wide and looking particularly strong on her forehand as she broke twice at the end of the set.

That appeared to knock the fight out of Williams and there was never any real doubt about the outcome of the second set, a disappointment for the crowd who had hoped for a much closer contest.

Williams remains tied with German Steffi Graf on five victories at the tournament.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Tony Jimenez)

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