Sunday, December 8, 2013
(Continued from page 1)
YES! Serena Williams reacts after beating Victoria Azarenka during the women’s singles final of the U.S. Open on Sunday in New York.
But she simply could not keep pace with Williams, who eventually adjusted to her opponent and the wind that topped 15 mph. Williams put aside her issues to finish with a 36-17 edge in winners.
The first time Williams served for the championship, at 5-4, Azarenka hit a cross-court forehand winner for break point, then forced a backhand long. Williams came right back to break for a 6-5 edge. But on her second chance to serve it out, she double-faulted to get broken for the fourth time Sunday.
A year ago, they played the first three-set women's final in New York since 1995. And they went the distance again, a total of 2 hours, 45 minutes, because Azarenka was superior in the tiebreaker.
When it came time to close the deal, Williams shined. She has six of the eight winners in the third set, forced Azarenka into 15 miscues, and soon enough, was hopping up and down after finishing with a service winner.
Azarenka faltered late, the way she did when losing the last four games in the 2012 final. She hit two of her seven double-faults while getting broken to 3-1 in the third set, then could only watch as Williams hit a pair of aces in the next game.
No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic faces No. 2 Rafael Nadal in the men's final Monday. It's the first time since 1996 that both U.S. Open singles finals are 1-vs.-2 matchups.
On Sunday, with former President Bill Clinton among the announced crowd of 23,584 in Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Williams' older sister Venus in a front-row seat, the fans were largely cheering for the American.
"I definitely felt the love," Williams said, "so thank you all so much for the support."
The breeze was clearly a factor at the outset.
Williams would catch her service tosses. She would try to stop her skirt from flapping around. And, most importantly, she would be caught off-guard by the balls that danced oddly. Six of the first 16 points ended with unforced errors by Williams, which allowed Azarenka to go ahead 2-1.
Looking hesitant at times, Williams did not show the same dominance she had while dropping only 16 games during six straight-set victories through the semifinals. And while she did go ahead, Azarenka made things interesting with a hard-hitting comeback.
Wasn't quite enough.
Williams equaled Steffi Graf with five U.S. Open titles, one behind Evert's record of six in the Open era, which began in 1968. Williams never had won two consecutive U.S. Opens, but now she has, adding to the trophies she earned in New York in 1999 -- at age 17 -- then 2002 and 2008.
Those go alongside five from Wimbledon, five from the Australian Open, and two from the French Open, which she won this year.
Williams also became the first woman to surpass $9 million in prize money in a single season, while topping $50 million for her career.
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