5 Momentous Matches In Serena Williams-Victoria Azarenka Rivalry
Williams and Azarenka have played 18 times -- Williams has won 15, including all three matches on clay. They've shared a Grand Slam court eight times -- Williams has won all eight. They've shared a hitting partner -- Sascha Bajin joined Azarenka's team in March after spending eight years, and winning 10 majors, with Williams. They've both been No. 1. They've both hoisted Grand Slam trophies.
In short, they've both been there, done that.
Here are five of our favorite matches in the entertaining rivalry.
2010 Australian Open quarterfinals
Azarenka had the top-seeded Williams on the ropes in the 2010 Aussie Open quarterfinals but never delivered the knockout. The seventh-seeded Azarenka won the first set 6-4 over the reigning champion and was up 4-0 in the second. But then things changed. Williams -- who said she started thinking about booking a flight home -- stormed back and ended up with a 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 victory. Williams would go on to beat Li Na in the semifinals and Justine Henin in the final to win her fifth Aussie Open and her 12th Grand Slam overall, which tied Williams with Billie Jean King. Azarenka would go on to win two Aussie Open titles of her own, in 2012 and 2013.
2012 US Open final
Azarenka was two points away from the title, and then Williams cut in. "I honestly can't believe I won," Williams said after the 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory that clinched her 15th Grand Slam title. "I really was preparing my runner-up speech, because I thought, 'Man, she's playing so great.' I'm really shocked." Azarenka was up 5-3 in the third set, but Williams regained her composure and Azarenka -- who was playing in her second Grand Slam final -- lost a bit of focus. "Being so close, it hurts deeply," Azarenka said. "To know you don't have it. You're close; you didn't get it."
2013 Qatar Open
Top-seeded and defending champion Azarenka, fresh off her second consecutive Australian Open title, claimed yet another trophy with a 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3 victory over Williams in the final on the hard courts of Doha. But even then, it was Williams who was the big winner. In an odd twist, Williams took over the No. 1 ranking in the world from Azarenka the very next day. And she hasn't budged since. The streak is at 118 weeks and counting. "I'm definitely not happy," Williams said after the match. "But I'm No. 1."
2013 US Open final
Back for an encore in New York, Williams and Azarenka put on another dramatic finale. But once again, it was Williams who was bowing to the crowd after her 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-1 victory. "From the first point, the tension, the battle, the determination," Azarenka said after the 2-hour, 45-minute classic. "It was ... kind of like boiling the water or something." For Williams, it was her fifth US Open title and 17th major overall. With the win, Williams became the first woman to surpass $9 million in prize money for a single season and the first to win $50 million in her career. Since then, Serena has tacked on another several million and her career prize money coming into the 2015 French Open was listed at $67,527,669.
2015 Madrid, Round of 16
Crumble. Crumble. Crumble. Looking to hand Williams her first loss of the 2015 season, Azarenka was up 6-5, 40-love -- three match points on her serve. After the next two points went Williams' way, the rest was almost too painful to watch. Three straight Azarenka double faults pulled Williams even. She then dominated the tiebreaker and posted a 7-6 (5) 3-6 7-6 (1) win in the most recent edition of their rivalry. "I wouldn't say I let myself down," Azarenka said. "Just sometimes it doesn't go your way."