By Ann Liguori
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Serena Williams prevailed in a wind-tricky match against Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 to win her fifth US Open title.
Serena was visibly annoyed in the first set by the swirling winds. She looked at her box several times in disbelief as the wind was playing havoc on her shots and causing her tennis skirt to fly up, which became a nuisance. Serena started slow and was over-hitting many of her shots. Was it nerves or the wind? Azarenka did not let the wind get inside her head and actually looked better in the early going.
In the second set, Serena was up two breaks at 4-1 and Azarenka rallied back. Serena was serving for the match at both 5-4 and then 6-5 and Azarenka was able to tie it up (Serena double-faulted to lose her serve) to force the tie break. Serena rushed out to a 3-1 lead in that tie breaker but Azarenka rallied to win that second set, 8 points to 6 in that tie-break.
The third set was all Serena. In the past, giving up that second set could have affected Williams. But she obviously did not let her emotions get the best of her, crushing Azarenka, 6-1 in the third to win.
Dealing with this kind of adversity in these intense matches is where Serena has shown the biggest improvement. As her sister Venus said, “the only player that can beat Serena is Serena herself.” When she keeps her nerves and emotions under control and plays her own game, nobody can beat her.
Serena’s consulting coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has obviously helped her in this area. Serena has improved her mental game and has learned how to keep her emotions under control. Her intensity is part of what makes her the champion she is but it is that same intensity that can damage any player’s psyche when things don’t go the right way. As Serena chases history, she is doing it with much more control and focus.
What was amazing about that match is that Serena struggled in the first two sets and still managed to win!
With 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Serena is just one behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on the all-time list. Nobody can stop Serena Williams but Serena Williams.
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