Sunday, November 19, 2017
Sports

Serena Williams beats Victoria Azarenka for fourth U.S. Open title

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW YORK — After one set, a fourth U.S. Open title for Serena Williams looked like a foregone conclusion. She was ripping serves and groundstrokes Sunday with the power and precision that have defined her summer.

Who could have imagined that by the end of the match, victory over top-ranked Victoria Azarenka would come as a surprise, leaving Williams with her eyes wide and her hands to her head?

"I really was preparing my runner-up speech, because I thought, 'Man, she's playing so great,' " Williams said. "I'm really shocked."

Although Azarenka had done an often-admirable job of coping with Williams' first-strike pressure in the big-swinging final, she could not handle the chance to win her first U.S. Open.

Serving for the match at 5-4 in the third set, she lost the first three points, two with unforced backhand errors, then the game with a forehand in the tape.

Williams, whose mood and form had fluctuated wildly after winning the first set, did not lose her way again. She put an exclamation point on her remarkable summer by closing out a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win that will rank among her most memorable.

"She never gives up," Azarenka said. "She's definitely the toughest player, mentally, there is, and she's got the power."

Since losing in the first round of the French Open in May, Williams, 30, has won the singles and women's doubles at Wimbledon and the singles and doubles gold medals at the Olympics, and she now has changed her luck at the U.S. Open, where she won her first Grand Slam singles title as a teenager but where she has lost control of her temper and her huge shots in recent years. "I was miserable after that loss in Paris. I have never been so miserable after a loss," Williams said. "I pulled it together. … Sometimes, they say, it's good to lose."

The victory gave Williams, seeded fourth, a 15th Grand Slam singles title, fourth most behind Steffi Graf (22), Chris Evert (18) and Martina Navratilova (18) in the Open era. Though Azarenka, 23, still will be ranked No. 1 today, Williams is the only woman to win two major singles titles this year. She managed it despite a significant dip in form in the final, which was the first women's Open final to go three sets in 17 years (Graf over Monica Seles 7-6, 0-6, 6-3).

In her first six matches, Williams never came close to dropping a set. But Azarenka deserved some of the credit. Hardcourts are her best canvas. She won her first major singles title in January at the Australian Open on a similar surface, and she sharpened her game at this Open by surviving a much tougher draw than Williams. But she could not quite close the deal.

Djokovic joins Murray in men's final today

At the end of his semifinal, Novak Djokovic let out a small scream, pumped a quick fist and skipped across the court.

Then the second seed turned his attention toward Andy Murray, his opponent in today's final. To defend his title, Djokovic must deny Murray, seeded third, his first major victory, must summon another moment in New York. "There's some magic here," Djokovic's coach, Marian Vajda, said. "Always, in New York, there is magic."

The semi with fourth seed David Ferrer was halted Saturday because of high wind and the threat of more severe weather with Djokovic trailing 5-2 in the first set. Vajda said Djokovic "could not cope" with the conditions, but he flourished in the sun Sunday in his 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 triumph. "I didn't mind getting off the court," Djokovic said with a sly smile.

Comments
Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

Lightning finds its game too late, loses to Islanders

TAMPA — The firepower showed up in the third period.Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat scored 13 seconds apart. Gourde scored again.Suddenly it was a one-goal game, and the Lightning appeared on its way to one of those comeback wins that would be remember...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning journal: Jon Cooper thrilled with stellar start

Lightning journal: Jon Cooper thrilled with stellar start

TAMPA — If you told coach Jon Cooper his team would open the season with wins in 15 of the first 19 games, well, "I’m not sure I can sit here and say I would have predicted that," he said Saturday morning.But the Lightning did just that to lead the N...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sunday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Ford EcoBoost 4003 p.m.NBCCFLSaskatchewan at Toronto1 p.m.ESPNewsEdmonton at Calgary4:30 p.m.ESPNewsCollege basketballMonmouth at Virginia1 p.m.FSFWomen: Maryland at Connecticut1:30 p.m.ESPNPuerto Rico Tip-Off, fifth pla...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Islanders

Roger Mooney’s takeaways from Lightning-Islanders

This is what happens when you have the best record in the league: You get the best from the other team. The Islanders came out strong and the Lightning couldn’t match it, falling behind 4-0 early in the third. For the most part, the Lightning has bee...
Updated: 6 hours ago
No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

No. 14 UCF rolls Temple 45-19, heads to War on I-4 unbeaten

PHILADELPHIA — There were so many reasons for UCF coach Scott Frost to worry about his team’s focus. With a huge game against USF looming, playing an improving Temple team in a stadium where the empty seats outnumbered the filled ones by about a 3-1 ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh: ‘Let them remember us’

TAMPA — In the spring of 2010, one of the biggest debates during the week leading up to the NFL draft was which defensive tackle would be selected first: Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma’s Gerald McCoy.Both figured to be highly productive NFL pla...
Updated: 6 hours ago
No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

No. 2 Miami finishes on 30-0 run, tops Virginia 44-28

MIAMI — After Miami clinched the first Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division crown in program history, upset the then-No. 3 team in the country, claimed one of the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings and after many of the nat...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

Early Lightning awards: Tough call on MVP

TAMPA — It’s still way early, but if the Lightning’s record start continues, there will be a lot of hardware up for grabs. And we’re not just talking about the Stanley Cup. Nikita Kucherov has league MVP written all over him. Andrei Vasilevskiy coul...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

Bucs’ belief in Jameis Winston has been shaken

TAMPA — Belief is the biggest attribute a quarterback can bring to his team. Belief in his talent. Belief in his commitment to winning. Belief in his ability to bring everyone together and have his voice lead the path forward.But the belief the Bucs ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Updated: 6 hours ago