Scintillating Serena Storms Past Defenseless Dane

Last night, Serena Williams claimed her sixth US Open crown and her 18th Grand Slam title, after beating her close friend Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows, New York.

Williams, 32, was aiming to achieve a hat-trick of US Opens whilst Wozniacki, 24, was in only her second Grand Slam final, was hoping to claim her first major title. Going into the match, the head-to-head record didn’t look promising for ‘Caro’ who had lost eight of their nine meetings against the top seed.

Wozniacki failed to convert a break point in the first game, mainly due to Williams’ first ace of the match, and the American held for the opening game before two double faults by the Dane and two enormous forehand returns gave Serena the early break. However, Williams failed to consolidate her break as she dumped a routine backhand volley into the net before hitting wide at 30-40 to give Caroline the break back immediately.

Wozniacki, whose engagement with golfing star Rory McIlroy ended in May this year, looked shaky on her serve and this was evident for all as Williams controlled many of the rallies with her big hitting on both her forehand and backhand side, leading to another break for 3-1. But once again, the tenth seed refused to give in and broke back to love with an incredible rally along with two double faults from her good friend, Serena, to pull it back to 3-2.

But the onslaught from Williams continued in Wozniacki’s next service game as the Dane was put on the back foot due to the powerful, deep groundstrokes of the 32-year-old, who had gone beyond the fourth round for the first time in a Grand Slam this year, and Williams broke again to take a 4-2 lead, as the game reached 30 minutes in length.

A solid hold from Serena extended her lead to 5-2 before a long service game for Wozniacki. At 15-15, Williams’ massive return looked slightly wide, it was called good and Caroline therefore challenged, only for Hawk-Eye to reveal the tiniest part of the ball catching the outside of the line – everything seemed to be going the American’s way. Wozniacki then challenged a first serve fault, which clearly distracted her as she went on to double fault. A terrible Wozniacki forehand fell into the net gave Williams another set point, her 10th unforced error of the match, but she finished the game strongly to save the game to hold for the first time.

There were glimpses of optimism early in the ninth game but Williams set up set point and a great rally was concluded when she converted a backhand winner, thus closing out the first set 6-3.

The second set continued in the same fashion as the first finished with a dominant display from Williams, if somewhat unorthodox particularly with a driven backhand volley by her feet at 15-15, before a let cord dropped over to Wozniacki’s disbelief and she attained the break a couple of points later before a quick-fire hold which included two aces  and a service winner to make it 2-0.

A top rally by ‘Caro’ set her up on her way to a hold for 2-1 before another routine hold for Williams was sealed with a solid punched volley for a 3-1 lead. An ace by Wozniacki, her first winner of the match (both of her two winners in the match were aces) pulled it back to 3-2 and a further solid hold by Williams, including two aces, restored her two-game lead once more, this time to 4-2. Wozniacki again held for 4-3, sealing the game with an ace for a love game before a forehand winner meant Serena was just one game away from her 18th Grand Slam title.

As Caroline served to stay in the match, Williams took the first point with a trademark backhand before a fantastic rally was won by Wozniacki after a tremendous run and cross-court winner for 15-15. The point of the match followed in which 26 strokes were exchanged in an enthralling rally which the top seed one, celebrating with a clenched fist and glaring eyes. Serena dictated the next point to bring up two match points and Wozniacki went long with a backhand and that was it! Serena Williams had claimed her 6th US Open title, without dropping a single set throughout the tournament, in 1 hour 15 minutes and she collapsed at the baseline. The two players embraced at the net and exchanged a smile, the Dane clearly gracious in defeat.

Williams’ joy was evident for all to see as she emotionally thanked her team, family and the crowd for their continuous support. About Wozniacki, she said, “Congrats Caroline on a great two weeks, we text every day” and that it was a “wonderful feeling – a pleasure to win 1st and 18th titles here [at Flushing Meadows].”

Wozniacki was upbeat afterwards and said, “Congratulations Serena, you deserved it and played better. You’re an inspiration on and off the court, an unbelievable champion and a great friend” and joked that drinks were on the champion afterwards! She too thanked the crowd, her team, friends at home and family for their support and the ballkids, line judges and sponsors for making it such a great tournament.

As the sun set over the New York skyline, Williams was presented with the trophy by Martina Navratilova & Chris Evert, both of whom Serena joined by winning her 18th Grand Slam title, and was beaming as she lifted the sparkling trophy aloft, once again.

Josh Jones

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