Day 13, the penultimate day of the Australian Open 2012 saw the women’s final played with the winner having the added incentive of rising to World No.1 in the rankings. 22 year old Victoria Azarenka beat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-0 in an hour and 22 minutes to win the title.
Victoria Azarenka playing her first grand slam final started off nervously losing her serve in the first game after serving 2 double faults and was down 0-2, 0-30 before fighting back to 1-2. Azarenka grew more confident and this translated into a service break and soon they were level at 3-3. From this point on, Azarenka was unstoppable winning the next 9 games in a row with some inspired tennis.
The key turning point proved to be the crucial game with Azarenka leading 4-3 in the first set. Sharapova was looking at an easy hold at 40-15 but some hard hitting ground strokes from Azarenka and a double fault brought up a break point for the Belarusian. Azarenka started moving to the net and pulled some fine winners including a drive volley to the open court to break serve for 5-3. She served out the set when Sharapova dumped a return into the net.
Azarenka used the momentum to break serve in the first game in the second set with a well anticipated passing shot that was just out of reach of a lunging Sharapova. Azarenka was in a spot of bother the next game going down 0-30 and facing a breakpoint but she dug deep and came up with aggressive ground strokes to hold to 2-0.
Sharapova was hitting the ground strokes with more power than Azarenka but the crucial difference was that Azarenka was more accurate and consistent making just 12 unforced errors to 30 by her opponent. Soon the lead became 5-0 and a nervous Azarenka was now serving for the championships. Sharapova earned a breakpoint with aid of a lucky net cord but hit a weak backhand into the net. Azarenka closed out the set and match at 6-0. Azarenka dropped to her knees and seemed in disbelief at what she had accomplished. She had won her first grand slam title and also attained the No.1 ranking.
Martina Hingis the former champion presented the trophies to Sharapova and an ecstatic Azarenka. Sharapova praised the champion saying it was an honor to play her. She added, “In every sport you have your good days and bad days. Today things didn’t work out for me. She was just too good. This was a tough loss but I will be definitely be back next year. Melbourne has been a home away from home for me the past month”
Azarenka thanked Sharapova for her kind words and said, “I am sure we will perform in many more finals together. I wish to thank my team, my family, boyfriend and my grandmother who inspires me the most. It is a dream come true.”
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