By Rod Crowley: So another outstanding Ladies US Open Tennis Championship concluded with yet again, Serena Williams, finding a response to numerous setbacks to claim a fourth title at Flushing Meadows and adding to her Wimbledon crown. Producing a “master class” of tennis throughout the tournament and eventually proving too determined for Victoria Azarenka in the final.
It was a richly deserved fourth US Open crown for Williams after she was forced to make a final set comeback from the irritatingly noisy but brilliant Azarenka.
Before Azarenka’s remarkable attempt in the final set to usurp the title from Williams, the match had looked all but over for her. Williams had grabbed the first set, winning it emphatically by 6-2 and the match looked set for an early two set finish.
However, Azarenka is made of much sterner stuff these days and she proceeded to boss the match, effectively taking Serena apart in the second set. She ran out a 6-2 winner and all of a sudden she was in the driving seat and looked set to win.
By the time she was 5-3 up in the final set she appeared to have the match won but somehow, Serena found a way to back. The American won the final set 7-5, winning the last four games with ruthless efficiency but at the ceremony afterwards, it was clear that she knew that she had been taken to the limit by a player who is sure to become her chief rival in 2013.
Azarenka will retain her world number one ranking, with Williams having to settle for number four for the time being. With luck, the two should end the year as the top two in the rankings meaning that they should be seeded to meet each other in a number of finals next year, including the Australian Open in January.
From a British perspective, it was one of the most successful tournaments for many years with Olympic Mixed Doubles Silver Medallist, Laura Robson, reaching the fourth round of the Ladies Singles event. This is the first time she has ever got past the second round in any “Grand Slam” to date and by reaching the fourth round, she equalled the feat achieved by Sam Smith in 1998 at Wimbledon.
In the process, she defeated two former “Grand Slam” champions in Kim Clijsters and Li Nah and proved that although she is still only ranked 75 in the World and is still behind compatriot Heather Watson (72), she has great potential going forward.
Had she won her last 16 match against defending champion Sam Stosur of Australia, she would have become the first British female to qualify for a Grand Slam Quarter Final since Jo Durie at Wimbledon in 1984.
She will now win many plaudits, particularly for her battling display against Stosur where she attempted to chase down 8 match points, displaying exactly the sort of attitude that takes one to the top of their sport in later years.