Serena Williams defends US Open title, downs Victoria Azarenka in final
She claimed the 4-1 lead after Azarenka double-faulted three times in the fifth and her U.S. Open repeat looked a certainty as she begun to find her range on her imposing service game that saw her serve broken only twice in six previous matches.
But Azarenka was not ready to capitulate.
"I think it was raising from the first point, the tension, the battle, the determination," the second seed said about the quality of the match. "It was really kind of like boiling the water. It felt from every point, it was rising the level."
The Belarusian showed her fight and took advantage of a string of Williams errors to break right back for 4-2 and rode that momentum.
Twice Williams served for the match, at 5-4 and again at 6-5, but Azarenka rose up to break the American's serve and force a tiebreaker.
Williams took a 3-1 lead but Azarenka won five of the next six points to seize a 6-4 advantage and sent the match to a third set when Williams belted a backhand long to lose it 8-6.
"I think I got a little uptight," Williams said about squandering her chances. "I wasn't playing smart tennis. (But) you have to keep fighting for everything."
The third set stayed on serve until the fourth game when another double fault, her seventh of the match, sank Azarenka and handed Williams a 3-1 lead.
With the stadium crowd roaring their support for the home favorite, the American broke Azarenka two games later for good measure to make it 5-1 before she claimed victory when the Belarusian sent a backhand long on the second match point.
Williams blasted 36 winners in the match against 17 for Azarenka, and blasted nine aces against just two for the Belarusian, who won an impressive 10 of 15 points at the net when she stepped up the pressure on Williams. "Victoria, you played unbelievable," said Williams at the trophy ceremony.