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Azarenka beats Williams to win Qatar Open

Source : AP
Last Updated: Sun, Feb 17, 2013 18:45 hrs

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka stunned 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, including 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 her going into Sunday's final.

Azarenka broke to go up 2-1 when an erratic Williams hit one of her four double-faults, but the American even things out after eight games. Williams then won four straight points in the tiebreaker to lead 6-5, but the Belarusian saved a set point and won it herself with a great return.

Williams dominated the second set with her powerful serve and forehand. Azarenka appeared anxious in the third, falling behind 0-30 but then won the game and jumped to a 3-0. lead. She extended it to 5-2 lead before Williams hit a great crosscourt backhand to make it 5-3 to stay in the match. But serving for the match, Azarenka went up 40-0 and clinched the victory 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."

Azarenka needs to reach the final in Dubai to have a chance at returning to the top spot. If Williams reaches the final next week, Azarenka would need to beat her in the title match to return to No. 1.




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