Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams played for the chance to add another Slam trophy to their 2012 collection.
Victoria Azarenka’s 2012 campaign couldn’t have gotten off to a better start: She won the first Grand Slam singles title of her career at the Australian Open, becoming No. 1 in the world in the process.
Serena Williams’ first half of the year didn’t go as planned, but she spent the summer making up for lost time. After suffering the first opening-round loss at a major in her career at the French Open, Williams bounced back to take the Wimbledon title. She returned to the All England Club a month later to win her first Olympic Gold singles medal.
Going into the US Open, both players were in stellar form. Azarenka beat Samantha Stosur, the defending champion, in three sets in the quarterfinals, then topped third-seeded Maria Sharapova. Williams’ road to the final was much easier.
In her six matches leading up to the final, Williams was at her dominant best, only dropping as many as four games in a set twice. This match looked like it was on course to follow that pattern as Williams won the opener 6-2 in just over 30 minutes.
In the second set, though, Azarenka capitalized on some miscues on the Williams serve to gain an early break. The world No. 1 turned the tables on Williams, capturing the set 6-2.
In the seventh game of the third—often cited as the most crucial in a set—Azarenka got a break, and then held for a 5-3 lead. She served for her first US Open crown at 5-4, but quickly fell behind 0-40. Williams got the break back, then held to take a 6-5 lead.
Azarenka tried to push the match into a tiebreak and went to deuce twice in the game. Williams, though, drew her final error from Azarenka, giving her her fourth US Open title and second Slam of the year.
Of the quarterfinalists that year, seven of the final eight had already played in at least one Grand Slam singles final in their careers with the exception of Roberta Vinci.
Serena became the third player after her sister and Steffi Graf to win Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open in the same year.
In Williams’ four title-winning US Open runs, this was the first time she dropped a set in the final.
Follow Van on Twitter: Van_Sias