Season Review: Part 4
Published November 22, 2012 12:00
And the American showed no sign of slowing down as the tour headed back stateside for a few months on the cement.
Interspersed between her successes at Wimbledon and the Olympics, Williams made the 10,000 mile round trip to Stanford to defend her Bank of the West Classic title, defeating a game, but outgunned, Coco Vandeweghe in the final.
Down the road in Carlsbad, Dominika Cibulkova put a disappointing start to the summer behind her to overcome Nadia Petrova and Marion Bartoli en route to a second career title, while over in Washington unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova sprung a surprise or two to emerge victorious at the International event.
Williams' busy schedule saw her opt out of defending the Rogers Cup in Montréal, with Petra Kvitova taking full advantage of her absence to triumph and give some much-needed momentum to a stuttering campaign.
A further victory in New Haven and a semifinal run in Cincinnati suddenly saw Kvitova emerge as one of the favorites for the US Open, although she was not the only big name running into form.
Like Kvitova, Li Na had endured something of a mid-season malaise, but - with a little help from Justine Henin's former mentor Carlos Rodriguez - she snapped out of it in spectacular fashion, winning nine of her 10 matches heading into Flushing Meadows, highlighted by a come-from-behind victory over Angelique Kerber in the Cincinnati final.
Once in New York, though, the form book went out of the window, as Li and Kvitova came unstuck against Laura Robson and Marion Bartoli, respectively, while fellow seeds Agnieszka Radwanska, Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki also suffered premature exits.
After two contrasting encounters, Azarenka and Williams were the two left standing and proceeded to put on the best major final in recent memory.
The patrons at Flushing Meadows had not been treated to a three set final since 1995, but the 17 years of waiting were repaid with interest as Williams hauled herself off the canvas to complete her own fairytale of New York.
Across two hours of exhilarating tennis, Williams began like a freight train, before spluttering and ultimately reawakening in the nick of time to beat the Belarusian 62 26 75 and secure her first US Open crown since 2008.
In the doubles, Errani recovered from her singles disappointment to partner Roberta Vinci to the trophy, defeating perennial bridesmaids Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the final.