Azarenka stuns erratic Williams in Indian Wells final
(Reuters) - Former world number one Victoria Azarenka took advantage of an error-prone display by Serena Williams to win her second BNP Paribas Open title with a 6-4 6-4 victory in Sunday's final at Indian Wells in California.
The 26-year-old Belarusian broke the top-seeded American once in the opening set and twice in the second before wrapping up the win in just under 90 minutes in front of a stunned crowd at the sun-baked Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
World number one Williams, seeking a third title at Indian Wells after winning her second a distant 15 years ago, was badly let down by her forehand, though she did mount a late fightback and broke Azarenka in the eighth game of the second set for 3-5.
The American came close to leveling with Azarenka, serving for the match, wobbling at 15-40 but the Belarusian fired an ace, got to deuce when Williams hit a backhand long and clinched victory when her opponent hit a forehand service return long.
A visibly emotional Azarenka, the 13th seed who claimed her first Indian Wells crown in 2012, was able to celebrate her fourth victory over Williams in a WTA final, and a 19th career title.
"I had no doubt in my mind that I will give everything I can," Azarenka told ESPN in a courtside interview about the see-sawing final game of the match.
"I couldn't control how she was going to play and she was throwing some bombs there.
"But I stayed tough because it's the only way to win, to stay strong, to keep doing what's been working. I just wanted to work hard, give it my all, and it worked."
Williams was also emotional, having won at Indian Wells in 1999 and 2001 before taking a self-imposed 14-year exile from the event amidst allegations of racial abuse from fans after her sister Venus withdrew minutes before their semi-final showdown. Continued...