(September 8, 2013)-New York is a city that has a flair for the dramatic and thus served as the perfect host for the women’s final of the U.S. Open.
In a match-up of the two best female tennis players in the world it was the player who may be the greatest of all time that came out ahead as Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 to win her 17th Grand Slam title.
Yet it was not an easy victory for Williams who looked far from the confident contender that had rolled through her opponents the previous two weeks. Instead it was the championship match that serious tennis fans had been anticipating throughout the fortnight spent in Flushing Meadows. Azarenka was deemed the only player thought to give pause to the coronation of a fifth U.S. Open title to Williams who took the number one ranking from her earlier this year.
Both players were seeking their second Grand Slam titles of the year as Azarenka had won the Australian Open and Williams had taken the French Open. The two had met only a few weeks ago in Cincinnati, the final hard court tune-up before the U.S. Open in which Azarenka came out ahead and won her third title of the year. It was a disappointment for Williams and perhaps a motivator to be denied one of the few WTA tennis titles lacking on her incredible resume.
Williams started with breaking Azarenka in the first game of the match though Azarenka then quickly earned a break point back. Williams struggled with her serve throughout the day and had one of two eventual foot faults of the match in the first set. Though it was apparent that wind was playing a factor in their play, Williams also looked very tight until she managed to earn another break point late in the set and then held serve to win the first set 7-5.
Williams broke out to a quick 4-1 lead in the second set before Azarenka pulled back and managed to even the set five all. Williams however was able to break Azarenka in the next game though was unable to hold serve as her fourth double fault forced the second set tiebreak.
In the tiebreak Azarenka showed why she is the second best player in the world playing with confidence that few players exhibit when battling Williams. Swirling winds and frustrated emotions got the better of Williams as Azarenka took the tiebreak and forced the deciding third set.
The third set began on serve for both players until a double fault and a game in which Azarenka had four unforced errors allowed Williams to steal the break and take a 3-1 lead. Holding serve at 4-1 Williams was then able to avoid the pitfalls of the second set and earned another break point to lead 5-1 in the set. Williams was then able to hold serve and won the match after battling for two hours and forty-five minutes.
For Williams her 17th Grand Slam title moves her further up the line of some of the greatest female tennis players in history and the debate on whether she is the best of all time begins to pick up steam. In the Open Era she now sits only behind Chrissy Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam titles and Steffi Graf who holds 22. And those are not including her 13 Grand Slam doubles titles that she has won with her sister Venus.
Time will dictate William’s place in tennis history, for now she can relish another Grand Slam championship and perhaps one of the most hard fought victories of her career.