KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. - Serena Williams was the winner, coming back after being off the tour more than eight months with a knee injury and capturing the Nasdaq-100 Open title in a mortifying 50-minute final.
But Elena Dementieva, whose wild serves were the butt of jokes during this 12-day tournament - she totaled 57 double faults, after all - was not the loser.
The real loser was women's tennis, which took a terrible hit with several top players not entered because of injury or fatigue. That allowed sixth-ranked Williams to dance through the draw and crush No. 8 Dementieva, 6-1, 6-1, on a perfectly blue and perfectly boring afternoon yesterday.
But how would Williams - who last played in winning Wimbledon last July - have fared with No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne or No. 2 Kim Clijsters in the mix? What is for sure is that Williams has won her third straight Key Biscayne title, run her winning streak here to 18 and rung up her 24th tour championship.
"I have a much better idea as to where I am today. Two weeks ago, I was really nervous to come out here and play for the first time in eight months," Williams said. "I was thinking, `Gosh, I'm really nervous.' But, at the same time, I was really, really anxious to come back and get out here."
Williams won 61 of the 95 total points and made only 14 unforced errors. Dementieva, the tall Russian with the major league forehand, never held serve. She had nine double faults, three on break points.
Dementieva's 23rd unforced error ended the most one-sided final in the 20-year history of the tournament, men or women. It was also likely the shortest, though such tournament records aren't kept.
Dementieva, who upset Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, committed 51 unforced errors.
"I was thinking to play pretty much the same game I played against Venus," Dementieva said. "But I feel like I was tired today on court and couldn't move as well as I can."
The Sun-Sentinel of South Florida is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.