Victoria Azarenka earned her first title in Cincinnati on Sunday night by defeating world No. 1 Serena Williams 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) in a hard-fought match in the women's final of the 2013 Western & Southern Open, per WTA on Twitter:
The top two players in women's tennis went back and forth for well over two hours on Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, exchanging blows and putting on an unforgettable show for the fans in attendance.
Williams won the opening set with ease, serving up three aces and taking advantage of both of her break-point opportunities to close out the first frame 6-2 in under a half an hour.
As The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg pointed out on Twitter, Williams was in total control early:
Serena Williams one-third of the way to a golden set, taking the first eight points of the women's final vs. Azarenka... #CincyTennis— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 18, 2013
Things quickly changed in the second set, however, as Azarenka managed to create 11 break-point chances, three of which she capitalized on. Some shaky moments during her service games opened the door for Williams, who managed to break once in the set. But in the end, Azarenka was too strong on return, winning 53 percent of her return points in the set to level the match.
The two stars would hold serve through the first five games in the third and final set before Azarenka earned a key break in the sixth game to go up 4-2.
But Williams responded flawlessly, breaking Azarenka back and holding serve in the following game to tie the set up at 4-4.
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After breaking Azarenka in the ninth game to set up a service game to win it, Williams tightened up and dropped the next two games to trail 6-5 in the final set. The 16-time Grand Slam champion would recover, though, holding serve to level the set at 6-6 and force a tiebreak.
Williams would have a shot to serve out the tiebreaker at 5-4, but she faded down the stretch, dropping both points and eventually losing 8-6 after firing her return shot into the net on championship point.
Azarenka has beaten Williams in a final for the second time in 2013 and is now 3-12 against Williams all-time dating back to 2008.
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