- ATP Western & Southern Open
Azarenka rallies for title
Serena Williams wilted in the Ohio heat on Sunday night at the final of the Western & Southern Open as Victoria Azarenka rallied from a set down to clinch the title with a 2-6 6-2 7-6 (6) victory.
Williams dominated the first set before falling apart, as Azarenka ended her opponent's 14-match winning streak.
The result means Williams is still to win a Cincinnati title. She was trying to win her second tournament in as many weeks, fresh off her win in Toronto.
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"I just felt really off this whole week, but I was surprised to be in the final and surprised to be doing well," Williams said. "So I don't know, there's a few factors. I think what matters most was just fighting the whole time and survived to the end."
Williams has dominated on the tour, with 60 wins and just four defeats this season. She has never done well in Cincinnati - this was her first final appearance - and was eager to win on Sunday for a career-best ninth title of the season. All the statistics were in her favour, including a career record of 12 wins and two defeats against Azarenka, including a three-set win in the US Open final last year.
She won the first set in 26 minutes, dropping only 11 points. Then, she got sloppy in a second set that became bogged down. The sixth game went to deuce 12 times before Williams held serve on the 30th point. Williams appeared to tire and lost the set 6-2.
It was reminiscent of their clash at the US Open last year, when Williams took the last four games to win 6-2 2-6 7-5. This time Azarenka held on, winning a couple decisive points off Williams' serve in the tiebreak.
Tournament officials handed her an oversized bottle of champagne when she finished off the two-hour, 29-minute match. Azarenka was hesitant to pop the cork, until Williams encouraged her. She sprayed the court and took a sip.
"I need to get more practice because I felt like I'm not directing it too well," she said.
With her semifinal win over Li Na on Saturday, Williams clinched the 2013 Emirates Airline US Open Series women's title and can earn a £640,000 bonus if she wins the US Open.