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US Open 2012 daily report: Serena claims 15th Slam

Serena Williams wins her 15th Grand Slam singles title at the 2012 US Open
by Alexandra Willis
Monday 10 September 2012

The major stories from day 14 of the 2012 US Open at Flushing Meadows, New York...

Unstoppable Serena snatches title from Azarenka's grasp
At 3-3 in the third set of their women's singles final, pronounced by many to be the best women's Grand Slam final in the past decade, Serena Williams, owner of arguably the best serve in the women's game, was broken to love. It was a baffling turn of events in a final which had seen the 2011 runner-up blister through the opening set 6-2, before dropping the second by the same scoreline to Victoria Azarenka, the world No.1 and Australian Open champion.

It is no secret that New York does not bear the happiest of memories for the Wimbledon and Olympic champion, her past three years at Flushing Meadows ending in controversy through a foot fault, absence through injury, and a hindrance call. Serving at just 54% first serves and producing 44 unforced errors, perhaps it was those thoughts that were jamboreeing around her mind as she handed Azarenka the crucial breakthrough the Belarusian needed, served up with a side of fries.

She managed to hold serve at 3-5 to force Azarenka to win the title on her own delivery, a player who has been in, and won, only one Grand Slam singles final, to Serena's 14 titles and 18 finals. But at this juncture, the big occasion deserted Azarenka and found Serena. Breaking for 5-5, Serena held, and then, at the first sniff of an opportunity, found herself with match point. 

But, unlike the myriad of break points she had squandered during the match, making just five of 15 in total, she made no mistake on this occasion. As Azarenka's ball flew long, Serena dropped to the ground in disbelief at her 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory, a more astonished reaction than the bobbing and pogo-sticking of Wimbledon and the Olympics. 

“I can’t believe I won,” she said. “I came in the summer knowing it was going to be a long summer, but I knew that I could do well if I just put my mind to it. I knew that I could just be a good player and a champion this summer. I never expected to win all these titles. Everything has been so amazing.

“I think I competed really well. I never stopped competing no matter what, and I think sometimes if you can just go out and compete, then you can continue to do well.”

It was the first US Open women's final to go to three sets since Steffi Graf beat Monica Seles in 1995, and Azarenka deserves every bit of credit for turning it into such a contest. 

“I think it was a great match," Azarenka said. "Being so close it hurts deeply to know you don't have it, you're close, you didn't get it,” she said. “But at this moment I have no regrets. I felt like I gave it all there."

The youngster said she knew that Serena would throw everything at her as she served for the title, and admitted that she just had that tiny bit extra. 

“There was no other choice for her to do. In the back of my mind, I had that coming," Azarenka said. "So that maybe was a little bit of hesitation for me. But I have to say Serena produced some amazing tennis. I feel like I could have done a little bit better, but there was nothing that I did absolutely wrong.”

“Nothing is more exciting than winning such a tight match in a Grand Slam final,” Serena said. "I wonder if I have had one this tight. I'm not sure.”

With 15 Grand Slam singles titles to her name, Serena moves to three behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, seven behind Graf and nine behind Margaret Court. Whether any of those will be within her grasp remains to be seen. But she insists that she is more motivated than ever. After all, there is no more compelling example of mental strength than winning four games on the trot to win a title that it looked like she had lost. 

“My motivation is so up there,” she said. “I'm so motivated to just stay focused. I just feel like I'm ready for the next tournament. I really want to be focused and do well there and just keep the dream alive."

Djokovic keeps title defence alive
Novak Djokovic recovered from dropping the first set of his rain-delayed semi-final against David Ferrer to power into his fourth US Open final, the No.2 seed winning 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

"It was a huge relief to get through this match," said Djokovic. "He's one of the fittest guys on tour and never gives up."

In his last six US Open campaigns, the defending champion has posted a remarkable 35-4 record.

"I love the energy here," said Djokovic. "The crowd communicates with the players through the points, through the games, through the matches and the night sessions here are a very unique experience. I think I speak for all the players when I say we love playing here."

The Serb will meet Andy Murray in the final on Monday, and although he leads their head-to-head 8-6, and outplayed Murray in their only other meeting in a Grand Slam final, at the 2011 Australian Open, is not underestimating the Olympic champion. 

"He's obviously playing well and going to be very motivated to try and get his first Grand Slam title," said Djokovic. "Hopefully we can play our best tennis and put on a good show for the crowd."

Errani and Vinci mark top spot with second Slam
Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani took over the No.1 women's doubles ranking on Monday, and they did so with their second Grand Slam trophy in their grasp, the Italian duo beating the all-Czech combination of Lucie Hradecka and Andrea Hlavackova 6-4, 6-2. 

“We are so friendly,” said Vinci on why they’ve been so successful together.  “We play unbelievable here.  This is our second Slam title, and we’re so happy.”

Britain's Broady denied as Peliwo completes bumper year
Liam Broady suffered the agony of defeat in a boys' singles Grand Slam final for the second time as he was out-mastered by Canadian Filip Peliwo, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

The second seed had been the runner-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros before breaking his junior Grand Slam duck at Wimbledon earlier this summer. Winning the US Open, probably his last junior event, he said, was a fitting finish as he begins the transition to the men's game.

"It's an honor to win here," Peliwo said. "This is the best way for me to finish my junior career. I wanted to do it like Pete Sampras did, so it's nice to finish off like my idol."

In the girls' singles, Samantha Crawford, whom Laura Robson beat in her opening round of the women's singles, powered to the title with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Annett Kontaveit.

Agassi inducted into US Open Court of Champions
Andre Agassi opened the women's singles final shebang with a moving speech as he was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions. Introduced by the recently retired Andy Roddick, Agassi said that the crowd in New York was unlike anything else in tennis. 

"This is the only Grand Slam in my career that I've never missed," said Agassi. "The reason, quite honestly, is you...when people ask me if I miss the US Open, I don't hesitate. I miss your sounds. I miss your silence. I miss giving you everything I had and a little bit more. Thank you for giving me everything you've had for 21 years and a little bit more."

Coming up on Monday
Arthur Ashe Stadium
4pm Men's singles final
Andy Murray (GBR) [3] v Novak Djokovic (SRB) [2] 

For full scores, draws and results, and videos from Flushing Meadows, check out the US Open official website.


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