Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka has taken advantage of an error-prone Serena Williams to win her second Indian Wells title with a 6-4 6-4 victory in Sunday's final in California.
Belarusian broke the top-seeded American once in the opening set and
twice in the second before wrapping up the win in just under 90 minutes
in front of a stunned crowd at the sun-baked Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
emotional Azarenka, the 13th seed who claimed her first Indian Wells
crown in 2012, was able to celebrate her fourth victory over Williams in
a WTA final.
"I had no doubt in my mind that I will give
everything I can," Azarenka told ESPN in a courtside interview about the
see-sawing final game of the match.
"I couldn't control how she was going to play and she was throwing some bombs there.
I stayed tough because it's the only way to win, to stay strong, to
keep doing what's been working. I just wanted to work hard, give it my
all, and it worked."
World No.1 Williams, seeking a third title at
Indian Wells after winning her second a distant 15 years ago, was badly
let down by her forehand, though she did mount a late fightback and
broke Azarenka in the eighth game of the second set for 3-5.
American came close to levelling with Azarenka, serving for the match,
wobbling at 15-40 but the Belarusian fired an ace, got to deuce when
Williams hit a backhand long and clinched victory when her opponent hit a
forehand service return long.
Azarenka's win moved her back into the world's top 10 for the first time since August 2014.
She will jump to world No.8 in the WTA Tour rankings Monday.