Miami women’s final gallery: WIlliams vs Azarenka
Originally published on: 26/02/10 15:55
Victoria Azarenka defeated five-time champion and world No.1 Serena Williams 6-3 6-1 in the final of the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
Williams, playing with heavy strapping on her left leg, struggled physically throughout and the 19-year-old Belarusian capitalised, winning four straight games to take the first set.
Azarenka started her first Tier I nervously, while Williams looked intent of hitting winners from everywhere to keep the points short, making for a scrappy start to the match.
After trading breaks in games three and four, Azarenka broke clear for the second time at 4-3 when Williams went long with a forehand. Ever the battler, Williams saved three set points in game nine before netting a backhand on set point.
By game four of the second set Williams’ left leg gave out. She could no longer push off to serve, double-faulting twice to drop serve again.
Azarenka stayed focused as she closed in on victory, accepting the odd stunning drive from Williams and maintaining her solid hitting from the baseline.
Her first ace of the match was then followed by her seventh double-fault as her nerves returned, but Azarenka converted her third match point when Williams sent a backhand long.
“I was so nervous, I couldn’t believe I had the match point,” Azarenka said afterwards. “I really wanted another chance to play her because in Australia we unfortunately couldn’t finish. This is really big – I would say it was the biggest moment in my career.”
Williams said: “Even when I was down match point I thought I could still win; I didn’t really know how, but I thought it was a possibility.
“I think she has really, really improved. I actually look forward to playing her again so I can do better.”
It is a little unfortunate that the world No.10’s victory will be remembered for Williams’ immobility, as questions about her injury dominated the press conference.
“It was a little difficult moving to the left and a little bit to the right. A little forward was also difficult,” a smiling Williams said afterwards. “I don’t like to not play. I gave the effort that I could give today. That’s all I could give.”
Azarenka said: “You could see the leg tape right away, but I wasn’t really paying attention too much because I had to play my game and I had to keep her moving as much as I could.”