Serena Williams snatched victory away from Victoria Azarenka on Sunday, winning her fourth U.S. Open title with a three-set victory.
Williams won by scores of 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows. N.Y.
Serena's title by the numbers
- 4 U.S. Opens
- 10 wins over Vika (just 1 loss)
- 15 Grand Slam titles
- 34 games lost in the tourney
- 63 aces in seven matches won
It is her 15th Grand Slam singles title, but it almost didn't happen after Azarenka served at 5-4 for a chance to win her second major of the year.
"I honestly can't believe I won. I really was preparing my runner-up speech, because I thought, 'Man, she's playing so great," Williams said during the trophy presentation, adding: "I'm really shocked."
Might be the only one.
After all, what really was stunning was that Azarenka made things as interesting as they were, given that she came into the day 1-9 against Williams over their careers.
Add in that Williams hadn't dropped a set in the tournament, losing only 19 games through six matches before Sunday. All part of a tremendous run she is putting together in reaction to her loss at the French Open in late May, the American's only first-round exit in 49 career major tournaments. Since then, she is 26-1, winning Wimbledon and the London Olympics.
"I was miserable after that loss in Paris. I have never been so miserable after a loss," Williams said. "I pulled it together. ... Sometimes, they say, it's good to lose."
Azarenka hadn't dropped a three-set match all season until Sunday, going 12-0 in matches that went the distance, including victories over defending U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the quarter-finals and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.
As the third set started, Williams's mother, Oracene Price, told her from the stands, "Settle down."
"Serena deserves the win. She showed how true of a champion she is," Azarenka said. "I definitely gave it all today. Stepping out of this court today, I will have no regrets."
When Williams double-faulted, slapped a bad backhand into the net and pushed a forehand long, Azarenka broke at love for a 4-3 edge, then followed that up by holding for 5-3.
One game from the championship.
Azarenka was two points away at 30-all with the fourth-seeded Williams serving in the next game, but couldn't convert. And when Azarenka served for the victory at 5-4, she showed the jitters that probably are understandable given that this was only her second career Grand Slam final, 17 fewer than Williams.
Azarenka made three errors in that game, including a forehand into the net that let Williams break her to 5-all. Williams kept whatever excitement she might have felt contained, face straight as possible, while her older sister, seven-time major champion Venus, smiled and clapped in the stands.
That was during a key stretch in which Williams took 10 of 12 points to go ahead 6-5. She then broke again to win, dropping onto her back on the court when Azarenka sent a backhand long to end it.
Azarenka slumped in her changeover chair, a white towel covering her head, as Williams kept saying, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" while scurrying over to share the joy with her mother and big sister.
Williams, who turns 31 on Sept. 26, is the first 30-year-old woman to win the U.S. Open since Martina Navratilova in 1987.
Williams dominating the game right now. And she's been dominant, off and on, for more than a decade.
She won her very first major championship at age 17 at the 1999 U.S. Open. Winning titles 13 years apart at the same Grand Slam tournament represents the longest span of success in the professional era, which began in 1968. Navratilova (Wimbledon, 1978 and 1990) and Chris Evert (French Open, 1974 and 1986) had the longest previous spans of 12 years.
In the men's final Monday, defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia will face Olympic champion Andy Murray of Britain. It's the fifth consecutive year the tournament will conclude on Monday instead of the scheduled Sunday because of bad weather.
Djokovic beat David Ferrer of Spain 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in a semifinal that was halted in the first set because of impending rain Saturday and wrapped up Sunday.