US Open Women's Finals 2012: Serena Williams Rallies to Beat Victoria Azarenka
Williams will maintain her No. 4 ranking, and Azarenka will remain No. 1, but those rankings aren't fooling anyone. It is clear who the queen of tennis is right now.
Serena has now won 26 out of her last 27 matches, including two majors and an Olympic gold medal.
Given her dominant play as of late and the fact that she held a career 9-1 head-to-head match record entering this final, she was the overwhelming favorite, and many expected she would cruise. It looked like she would do just that.
She took the first set 6-2 with a dominant first serve and solid return game.
She was punishing Azarenka on her second serve, and as a result, she cruised to an easy win in the first set.
It looked like this one would be over quickly. However, Azarenka proved she was not going to let this be a cake walk, as she opened up the second set with a break and kept that momentum rolling.
She began to pound Serena's backhand with her second serve to avoid getting torn apart on her service game. This all seemed to chip away at Serena's confidence, as her accuracy fell off the map.
In the second set, Williams hit less than 50 percent of her first serves and hit nine unforced errors just with her forehand.
She also was not attacking the court with the same intensity and was returning too many shots on flat feet.
Suddenly, the momentum was all on Azarenka's side, as the match was beginning to look a lot like her previous two, where she beat other powerful players in defending champion Samantha Stosur and French Open champion Maria Sharapova.
Onto the third set, Serena opened with a nice service game, and you could see the fire rushing back in her play.
She pushed Azarenka to a deuce on her service game but couldn't pull it out—this proved costly, as Azarenka broke her in the next game to take a 2-1 lead.
Serena was certainly not done battling, though. Down 3-1, she took Azarenka to a deuce on Azarenka's serve.
On the third deuce of that game, Serena destroyed a forehand winner off Azarenka's serve to gain the advantage and won the game on the next point to get back on serve.
That didn't last.
Serena continued to struggle with her service accuracy and was broken the next game. This left Azarenka serving for the championship just a few games later, but Serena wasn't having it.
With everything on the line, she broke Azarenka to tie it at five games apiece. Serena held serve, and with Azarenka serving to try to force a tiebreaker, scored the victory on the second deuce.
Game. Set. Match. Serena Williams is now a four-time U.S. Open champion.
She ended up hitting just 54 percent of her first serves but scored 13 aces while averaging 110 mph on her first serve—Azarenka did not have an ace in this one.
She did not have her best today, but she came up big when she needed. Serena's power, poise and propensity for clutch proved to be too much for Azarenka.
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