Serena Williams defeated fellow American Jennifer Capriati, who is celebrating her 27th birthday, in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, on Sunday to capture the championship at the NASDAQ-100 Open. The match lasted two hours and four minutes.

The top-seeded Williams, who is also No. 1 in the world, claimed $393,000 for her win. The two-time runner-up Capriati, who was the sixth seed, took home $206,000.

The 21-year-old Williams, who defeated Capriati in last year's final, appeared in her third Miami championship match, having also finished as the runner- up to her sister Venus in 1999.

The reigning French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Aussie Open champion Serena improved to 8-4 lifetime against Capriati. This was the first time the two squared off this season.

Serena is a flawless 17-0 this year, with titles coming in Melbourne and at the Open Gaz de France in Paris. She is 22-6 in her career finals, including 3-0 in '03.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first set, Capriati broke Serena's serve twice on her way to winning the next four games and eventually took the set 6-4.

Serena powered her way to a 4-0 lead in the second set. She broke Capriati's serve in the second and fourth games of the set to take a commanding advantage. However, Capriati broke back in game five and held serve to pull to within 2-4.

After Serena kept her serve to take a 5-2 lead, Capriati battled back and used her power and accuracy to hold serve and then break Serena to make it 4-5. But she was unable to take advantage, as Serena dominated the next game and evened the match at a set apiece.

The sixth-seeded Capriati struggled with her serve in the final set, as Serena took two more of Capriati's service games away from her on the way to a 5-1 advantage. Serena surrendered only one point in the final game on her way to the title.

Serena finished with five aces, while Capriati served up only two.

The three-time Grand Slam tournament champion Capriati lost for just the second time in her last 11 matches. Her other loss came at the hands of Lindsay Davenport in the semifinals at Indian Wells the week before this Miami extravaganza commenced.

Capriati, who lost to Venus in the 2001 championship in Miami, fell to 13-15 in her career finals, with her last title coming at the 2002 Australian Open 14 months ago. She also claimed the 2001 Australian and French Opens.