Serena keeps her cool to hold off world No 1 Azarenka and claim fourth US Open title
23:42 GMT, 9 September 2012
Serena Williams staged a brilliant
fightback to win her 15th grand slam singles title at the US Open in a
thrilling final against world No 1 Victoria Azarenka.
The fourth seed dominated the first
set but Azarenka fought back superbly and served for the match in the
decider only for Williams to reel off four games in a row to win 6-2 2-6
Star and stripes: Serena Williams
Jumping for joy: Serena celebrates (above) before being floored (below)
It was a fourth Flushing Meadows crown for the 30-year-old American, who looked amazed as she lay flat on her back on Arthur Ashe Stadium before going to celebrate with her friends and family.
'I honestly can't believe I won,' she said at the post-match ceremony. 'I really was preparing my runners-up speech. She's playing so great. I'm really shocked and so happy to have gotten so far.'
Azarenka was gracious in defeat, and said she would leave Flushing Meadows with no regrets.
'At the moment it's tough, but Serena deserved to win,' the 23-year-old said. 'She showed how true a champion she is. I'm just honoured standing with such a champion here.
'I definitely gave it all today and stepping out of this court today I will have no regrets.'
For Williams it was also redemption of a kind after last year's final defeat by Sam Stosur, which was marred by an altercation between Williams and umpire Eva Asderaki over a hindrance call, for which she was later fined.
High point: Serena Williams
Shock and roar: Victoria Azarenka produced a spirited fightback
Williams is only the world No 4
but she was a clear favourite going into the match after a stellar
summer that included her fifth Wimbledon title and two Olympic gold
The 30-year-old, meanwhile, had beaten Azarenka in nine of their 10
previous meetings and had dropped only 19 games on her way to the final.
Williams had not had the toughest path, playing only one player in the
top 10, while Azarenka had had to battle her way past Stosur and Maria
Sharapova, but the American looked in supreme form as she blasted her
way through the first set.
But the tables turned completely in the second set as Williams began to
make errors and Azarenka, who won her first grand slam title at the
Australian Open as part of a brilliant opening to the season,
Not since Steffi Graf beat Monica Seles in 1995 had there been a
three-set women's final, and this one was now very much in the balance.
The intensity from both women was there for all to see and Azarenka, one
of the sport's great fighters, did very well to stave off two break
points in the second game.
On the slide: Williams struggled after impressive start
Colourful: US singer Redfoo of the group LMFAO in the stands
She got her reward in the next game when Williams hooked a backhand just
wide to hand the lead to her opponent for the first time in the match.
Azarenka had not lost a three-set match all year and she looked a lot
more solid than Williams, whose unforced error count was well into the
But the American is also a natural-born battler and she broke back in a
lengthy fourth game with two huge forehands, letting out a scream that
was as long as it was loud.
Williams sent down one ace at 125mph but she always seemed liable to
falter at any moment and it was Azarenka screaming when four errors from
her opponent gave her the lead back at 4-3.
Williams smacked her racquet on the ground in frustration as an Azarenka
shot hit the baseline to prevent the fourth seed breaking back and
suddenly the Belarusian had a 5-3 lead.
High point: Azarenka hits a return
Pure delight: Serena celebrates victory
But she could not serve it out, Williams breaking back to the delight of
the American crowd and in particular her sister Venus watching in the
The 30-year-old was moving her feet much better and the next time Azarenka served it was to stay in the match.
Williams was a woman on a mission and, although Azarenka came up with a
superb volley to keep her at bay, it was only temporary, and she took
her second match point when the world number one fired a backhand long.