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Azarenka prevails in showdown with Serena

By Reuters in Cincinnati | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-20 07:51

Victoria Azarenka won a duel between the world's two top players by beating No 1 Serena Williams 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 in the final of the Western and Southern Open on Sunday.

For two hours and 30 minutes, Azarenka and Williams engaged in a seesaw battle before the Belarusian finally clinched the victory, winning a nervy tiebreak 8-6 to prevent the American from adding Cincinnati to her long list of triumphs.

"Obviously, it's a big win. It was a great match," Azarenka told reporters. "I'm really, really pleased with the way I pulled it out. It was a great battle.There were no giveaways. It was pure fight."

In a career that has generated 54 singles titles, including 16 Grand Slams, Williams had won just about everything there is to win in her sport - but not Cincinnati, one of the WTA's most prestigious tournaments.

Cincinnati will remain a hole on Serena's resume for at least another year after Azarenka answered the challenge by claiming just her third win in 15 attempts against the 31-year-old American.

Williams came into the contest with a chance to pass several career milestones beyond a first Cincinnati win, but she failed to secure any of them.

It was only the second time in 10 finals this season that Williams failed to walk away with the trophy, while a victory on Sunday would have moved her up a notch on the career wins list into a tie for seventh place with Britain's Virginia Wade and compatriot Lindsay Davenport.

Azarenka prevails in showdown with Serena

But the day belonged to Azarenka, who bagged her third title of the year and 17th of her career.

"We go against each other really tough, so I think, yeah, it's a good rivalry," said Williams. "I'm No 1, she's No 2 so we have that rivalry which consists of meeting in the final, which makes it even more so exciting.

"I personally was thinking it is a good rivalry and it's good to have someone out there that can play hard and fight so tough.

"She's a great player. There's a reason why she's winning Grand Slams and doing so well."

A marquee final featuring the world's No 1 and 2 players initially failed to deliver the high-quality spectacle expected from two women who have captured five of the last seven Grand Slams.

Azarenka, who struggled with her serve en route to beating Jelena Jankovic in the semifinals and held just three times, opened the match with two double faults to hand Williams the early break.

Williams continued her assault on Azarenka with another break at 4-1 that left the Belarusian waving her racket in anger.

"I felt like my energy wasn't maybe there 100 percent at the beginning, but that's what the match is about," said Azarenka.

"It goes up and down when your battling against somebody and you have an edge or then you don't have an edge."


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