NEW YORK – Finally tested, even trailing, at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams turned things around just in time.
Two points from defeat, Williams suddenly regained her composure and her strokes, coming back to win the last four games and beat No. 1-ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 on Sunday night for her fourth championship at Flushing Meadows and 15th Grand Slam title overall.
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.
She 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 all-time.
Add in that Williams hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament, losing only 19 games through six matches before Sunday. It was all part of a tremendous run she is putting together in the wake of 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.
There hadn’t been a three-set women’s final in New York since 1995, and Williams came through with a late charge to become the first woman to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same season since a decade ago, when – yes, that’s right – she did it.
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.
In today’s men’s finals, Novak Djokovic will face Olympic champion Andy Murray. Djokovic beat fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 Sunday in a match suspended a day earlier. Murray beat Tomas Berdych 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7) on Saturday.
Azarenka hadn’t dropped a three-set match all season until Sunday, going 12-0 in matches that went the distance, including victories over 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the quarterfinals and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in the semifinals.
As the third set started, Williams’ mother, Oracene Price, told her from the stands, Settle down.
It didn’t happen right away.
When Williams double-faulted, Azarenka broke at love for a 4-3 edge, then followed that up by holding for 5-3.
Azarenka was one game from the championship.
She was two points away at 30-all with Williams serving in the next game but couldn’t convert. And when Azarenka served for the victory at 5-4, she made three errors, including a forehand into the net that let Williams break her to 5-all. Williams took 10 of 12 points to go ahead 6-5. She then broke again to win.