I will be the first to admit – I have always been in the the tank for Serena William. Ok, for the Williamses. So as much as I like to call it right down the middle, I skew Williams especially in a grand slam titles as was the case in the US Open Final. Serena Williams v. Victoria Azarenka. No. 1 seed v. No.4 seed. To be fair, when you are facing a Williams, the seeding does not matter much. The girls so tend to pick and choose the tournaments they play in and when they play that their seeding algebra does not really square with ATP rankings.
That said, you had to go into the final thinking that for the most part Serena had this. Her path to the finals was as close to a continuous walkover as you could find. She did not concede a single game in the 4th round, powering through Hlavackova 6 – 0. 6 – 0. She only conceded a few in the quarters with her 6 – 1, 6 – 3 stroll past Ivanovic. Serena barely broke a sweat against Errani in the semis, beating up Errani 6 – 1, 6 – 2. Serena seemed to have a clear advantage going into the final against Azarenka whose path had been quite a bit more demanding.
One would have been forgiven, and many of us probably felt we could justifiably call the final after a first set in which Serena cruised to a comfortable 6 – 2 win and looked ready to power through Azarenka for an easy US Open title. But the 23 year old Belarusian had a little more than probably anyone other than herself had anticipated. She was dogged in the second set. Fighting, battling, holding and breaking. She decidedly took the second set, the only set Serena had dropped in the US Open, 6 – 2 and looked to have set the stage for a stunning upset.
We were about to be treated to the first 3-set Women’s Final in the US Open since 1995. And given the preceding 2 sets, the final could be a real scorcher. And it was. Serena seemed slow to shake whatever sluggishness had afflicted her in the 2nd set. Azarenka, hustled, clawed fought, broke and pushed the match to the brink of victory, leading 5 – 3. That was one game away from the US Open Championship. Everyone could see it, read the tea leaves. It did not look like Serena had enough in her tank to close the gap. But there is a reason they play the games. So that BadaSSes like Serena can test and unleash their BadaSSitude. Did she ever??
Serving at 5 – 3, Serena was resolute and she held. 5 – 4. That was now scoreline that was decidedly less daunting and more encouraging than 5 – 3. She now had to break Azarenka who looked for a bit like she might have been fighting nerves as she served for the match. And maybe she was because Serena broke her serve! 5 – 5. Even ball game. At that point, guts, experience and history start to kick in. Serena had way, way more of that with regard to the US Open. And it showed. Long story short, Serena won the US Open for the fourth time, making it her 15th major title. Not a bad day at the office. Yes?