Fitzgerald Cecilio

Madrid, Spain

Serena Williams defeated Maria Sharapova in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, in the final of the Madrid Open to retain her No. 1 ranking and win her 50th WTA crown.

Aside from a 3-1 deficit in the second set, Williams was in control the whole time, keeping Sharapova at bay with crosscourt blasts en route to victory. With the win, Williams improved her record against Sharapova to 13-2.

Williams became the 10th player to win 50 or more WTA titles. The first nine were Martina Navratilova (167), Chris Evert (154), Steffi Graf (107), Margaret Court (92), Evonne Goolagong (68), Billie Jean King (67), Lindsay Davenport (55), Virginia Wade (55) and Monica Seles (53).

Williams also moved to third place among active players for most WTA clay court titles, tied with Sharapova and Flavia Pennetta with seven. Venus Williams is second place with nine, and Anabel Medina Garrigues is first with 10.

"It feels good," Williams said. "I don't know how many more I can win. Like I say every day, 'Who knows if I'll ever win another title?' I just want to live in the moment and the dream every chance I get."

With the title, Williams feels confident about her chances at Roland Garros. "I think it's great preparation. It's definitely a good start in the right direction. I feel good about it," said Williams, 28-1 on clay since the start of last year's clay court season.

Despite the loss, Sharapova is also confident heading into Roland Garros. She has a 27-2 record on clay with both losses coming to Williams.

"Obviously it's tough losing in the final today, but I think my preparation so far has been decent, winning a title in Stuttgart and getting to the final in this tournament for the first time," Sharapova said.

On the men's side, Rafael Nadal captured his 23rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy and his third title at the tournament with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka.

"I'm very happy," said Nadal, who defeated Wawrinka for the ninth straight time. "I think I played a really good match. I think I played the best match of the whole week today in the final."

The 26-year-old Nadal moved to joint second with Thomas Muster with 40 clay-court titles in the Open Era. Nadal now only trails fellow left-hander Guillermo Vilas with 46.

"I'm very happy for everything that has happened. Forty titles on clay are far more than I ever dreamed of winning," said Nadal, who won his fifth trophy of the year.

Despite the defeat, Wawrinka will return to the Top 10 of the ATP rankings for the first since 2008 when he was ranked No. 9.

Serena Williams Wins 50th Title, Retains Top Ranking