December 7, 2013
Tennis — US openMonday, September 9, 2013
Serena Williams retains title
Serena Williams repeated as US Open women’s champion by holding off a battling Victoria Azarenka 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 in a windblown final in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will play the men’s final today.
NEW YORK — Fussing with her skirt and flubbing her shots, Serena Williams was troubled in the US Open final by the swirling air and the strong play of Victoria Azarenka.
After one miss, Williams declared, “I can’t play in this wind.” After blowing a big second-set lead, Williams chucked her racket toward the sideline, and it bounced back onto the court.
In the end, Williams pulled herself together, as she usually does when it matters the most. Facing her first test of the past two weeks, the No. 1-seeded Williams overcame No. 2 Azarenka 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 yesterday for a fifth championship at Flushing Meadows and second in a row.
Williams, who turns 32 in two and half weeks, raised her Grand Slam singles title count to 17, the sixth-most in history and one shy of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. Williams collected a 3.6 million dollars prize, including a one million dollars bonus for producing the best results during the North American summer hard-court circuit leading up to the US Open.
Helped by nine aces, one at 126mph, Williams improved to 67-4 with a career-best nine titles in 2013. Since a first-round exit at the 2012 French Open, Williams is 98-5 with 14 titles, winning four of the past six Grand Slam tournaments.
But this one did not come easily, even though it appeared to be nearly over when Williams went ahead by two breaks at 4-1 in the second set. Williams served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 — only to have the gutsy Azarenka break each time.
This was a rematch of last year’s final, also won by Williams in three sets, and two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka provided another challenge with her big swings off both wings.
Also, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have built the best rivalry in tennis on a mountain of big-time matches, the likes of which they’ll play today in the US Open final.
It will be the 37th meeting of their careers — the most times in the Open era that any two men have played.
Nadal will be going for his 13th major title, Djokovic his seventh. Nadal is seeded second, Djokovic first. This will be their third meeting in the last four years in the final in Arthur Ashe Stadium, a stretch interrupted last year when Nadal sat out with a knee injury. Nadal won the first match, in 2010, and Djokovic won the rematch in 2011. Both were tense four-setters that played a role in the winner being ranked first at year’s end.