Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova in Madrid Open final

Serena Williams

World number one Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the Madrid Open final to win her 50th career singles title.

A Sharapova victory would have seen the world number two replace the American at the top of the rankings.

But the defending champion won 6-1 6-4, seeing out the match in a little over one and a quarter hours.

Williams, 31, leads their head-to-head 13-2, with the 26-year-old Russian not having beaten Williams since 2004.

She becomes only the 10th woman in history to reach the 50 singles tour title milestone.

It was Williams's first final on red clay in over 10 years, her last being at the 2002 French Open when she beat sister Venus for her only title at Roland Garros.

She fell to a shock first-round defeat to Virginie Razzano there last year, and after Sunday's win she said: "I feel pressure every day. I think it's a good thing a little bit because it means I'm still really hungry.

"Every time I play I really relish it more."

Referring to the injury that sidelined her for 11 months between 2010 and 2011, Williams added: "I don't know if it's because of what I went through. I just feel like I'm so fortunate to be out there and healthy and to have an opportunity to play something and be really good at it."

Williams, who had dropped just one set in the last seven meetings between the two, was dominant from the off as she pounced on the Sharapova serve at every opportunity to race into a 4-0 lead, before taking the first set 6-1.

Sharapova did react at the start of the second as she broke in the first game and backed it up with two solid service games of her own to lead 3-1.

But Williams broke back to level at 3-3 and then, after both players saved break points in their next service games, moved to within a game of victory with a comfortable hold.

A Sharapova double fault brought up three match points and Williams converted on the first.

"Thank you to everyone for being so supportive in every single match," said Sharapova.

"It was quite special and I wish I could have gone an extra round but there are many more years for me.

"Congratulations to Serena for an excellent match and her excellent week as well."

In two weeks' time, Sharapova will attempt to defend her French Open title in the climax to the clay-court season.

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