Pics: Sunil Crasto
Doha, Feb 18 (PTI): Former world number one Victoria Azarenka showed that being second best was not an option for her as she outshined Serena Williams 7-6 2-6 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Sunday.
Williams will replace Azarenka on top of the WTA rankings when the new list is released on Monday but the American’s hopes of capping off a memorable week with a 48th singles title were dashed by an opponent who extended her 2013 record to 14-0.
The Belarussian leapt to a 3-0 lead and never let off her advantage, polishing off Williams with a serve to which Serena just did not have answer, wrapping up the match in just 2 ½ hours.
“It’s amazing to have achieved what I have achieved,” the Belarussian said in a courtside interview.
“I just wanted to fight and give myself every opportunity to get back. I told myself ‘you have to keep it together, you have to do something otherwise Serena’s on a roll and she’s going to bring her A-game’.
Williams had entered the match on a high after reclaiming the top ranking for the sixth time and beating rival Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.
Two days after becoming the oldest woman to claim the world number one accolade, it seemed the efforts of the week finally caught up with her 31-year-old limbs.
She hung in to save one match point on her serve at 5-2 down, thanks to a serve that was incorrectly called in, but Azarenka was not about to let her off the hook.
The American saved another match point on Azarenka’s serve with a thumping backhand service return but it was the Belarussian who was soon had her hands up in the air and blowing kisses to the crowd, acknowledging her win.