Serena Williams was just seventeen when she won her first Grand Slam, at the very stage of the US Open, and now as a 30-year-old she's triumphant yet again, defeating world No.1 Victoria Azarenka 6-2 2-6 7-5 in the final and winning her 15th Grand Slam singles title and her fourth at the US Open.
In the beginning it looked like Azarenka would end up just like all the other Serena's opponents, crushed, but in the second set the Belarusian put all her assets on display, taking the match to the thrilling third set, in which she earned an early lead and later even served for the match, but it's not over til it's over, especially when Serena is on the other side.
En route to her 60th career final, Williams lost just 19 games and spent an average of just one hour and eight minutes on court per match, and after the first set against Azarenka, it seemed that the numbers wouldn't build up much after the final either. Serena opened with a dominant 6-2 first set, closing it out by breaking Azarenka's serve to love, while Azarenka barely won more than one point in Serena's service games.
The situation changed completely in the second set, though. Azarenka lifted her game, Serena's forehand went off, and the Belarusian saw herself leading 5-1 and quickly winning the second set, mirroring the first-set scoreline, 6-2. Now the things got complicated, especially as we knew Azarenka's 12-0 record in three-set matches this season.
The momentum stayed on Azarenka's side in the beginning of the decider. She saved two break points in the excellent second game and followed it with a break of Serena's serve for a 2-1 lead. However, Serena managed to break back and then consolidated the mini comeback by holding serve, aided by her 12th and 13th aces of the match. And just as you would think that this was what Serena needed to storm back, Azarenka leveled to 3-3 and broke Serena to love for a 4-3 lead. Whether nerves crept in or not, when given the opportunity to serve for the championship, Azarenka piled up errors and went down 0-40 on her serve, allowing Serena to break for 5-5. As you could guess, you only get as many chances by Serena, and before you knew it, Serena was celebrating and Vika was drowning in sourness. I'm sure that the fact that she contributed to this US Open final being one of the best Grand Slam women's finals in the recent history must be of little consolation for Azarenka.
In the first round the fourth-seeded Williams defeated Coco Vandeweghe 6-1 6-1, in the second Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-2 6-4, Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-0 in the third, Andrea Hlavackova 6-0 6-0 in the fourth, Ana Ivanovic 6-1 6-3 in the quarters, Sara Errani 6-1 6-2 in the semis, and finally Azarenka, for the 10th time in their 11 career meetings.
Our predictor Omair got both the semifinals right and now it turns out that he's right again – Serena won in three sets. Great job, Omair!
Additional info: This was the first three-set US Open final since 1995! Also, note that this US Open final is breaking the sequence of seven different champions in the past seven Grand Slams. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)