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Azarenka unable to break Serena's stranglehold

Victoria Azarenka hits a forehand against Serena Williams in the ladies' singles semi-final
by Barry Newcombe
Thursday 5 July 2012

When it was over on the Centre Court for Victoria Azarenka, after 96 minutes, she assembled everything she had brought with her, put a towel in her bag, and left.

The Centre Court crowd liked what they saw and heard of Azarenka. The noise which accompanies her service action was being laughed at and mimicked in some areas of the court. The noise, after all, can be likened to a peal of bells.

Azarenka was not going to be rushed. If she needed to stand at the rear of the court before taking the next serve from Serena Williams, she would do so. Sometimes Williams was forced to halt her build-up to the serve to accommodate her.

Azarenka did a lot of contemplating, underlining that she was not going to be rushed. That was probably why she mounted such a sustained challenge in the first set, which she lost because she dropped her serve to go 5-3 behind.

So Williams took the first set in 33 minutes.When she broke Azarenka for a 2-1 lead in the second set, the semi-final looked almost over. But Azarenka broke the Wiilliams serve for the only time in the sixth game and for a few moments the tall girl from Belarus was back in the hunt.

But Azarenka could not put daylight between herself and Williams, who served three aces to take the set to a tie-break. Azarenka conceded a match point with a forehand error, but Williams lobbed out. On the next chance, Williams reached the final with yet another ace.

Azarenka has beaten Williams only once in nine matches. If she can start reversing that trend, she will change her career. Williams moved on in the hope of winning her first Grand Slam title since 2010. Azarenka simply has to build some more.

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