Azarenka beats Williams to win Qatar Open
DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Victoria Azarenka beat Serena Williams 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 to win the Qatar Open on Sunday, earning her 16th title and ending a 10-match losing streak against the American.
Azarenka will give up the No. 1 ranking to the second-ranked Williams on Monday but extended her current winning streak to 14 matches, which included her second Australian Open title. More importantly, she may have turned around what has been a one-sided rivalry against Williams. Azarenka had not beaten Williams since 2009 in Miami, and had a 1-11 record against the American going into Sunday's final.
"It feels incredible," Azarenka said. "You know, this tournament is really great. ... It had such a strong field going into it, and I'm really glad that in the end of the week I'm the one who's holding the trophy."
Azarenka broke to go up 2-1 when an erratic Williams hit one of her four double-faults in the first set, but the American ensured it was back on serve after eight games. Williams struggled with her first serve throughout the first set and hit 26 unforced errors, but still had a set point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker. However, she hit a poor forehand into the net, and Azarenka then converted her first set point with a great return.
Williams dominated the second set with her powerful serve and forehand, while Azarenka could only hit 39 percent of her first serves.
Azarenka fell behind 0-30 in the first game of the decider but recovered and took a 3-0 lead. Williams then saved a match point at 5-2 to stay the match, but Azarenka clinched the win on her next service game when Williams hit a forehand wide.
"I just wanted to fight and give it my best, give myself every opportunity I can," Azarenka said. "I started with love-30 (in the third) and I was like, 'You have to keep it together. You have to do something.' Serena was on a roll ... so I had to really step up my game. I'm really glad I could turn it around and stay tough."
Williams praised Azarenka's performance but insisted she still wasn't at her best. Struggling at times with a cold and still nursing a right ankle injury that bothered her at the Australian Open, Williams appeared sluggish in early-round matches and needed three sets to beat Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.
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