World number one Serena Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at last, overpowering Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday to capture her sixth US Open crown. The world number one, shut out in the first three majors of the year, ended a year of waiting as she joined Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 majors — trailing only the 22 of Steffi Graf on the Open era list and six behind the all-time record held by Margaret Court.
Williams, who turns 33 later this month, said the goal of an 18th Grand Slam had hung over her "because I was joining Chrissy and Martina, someone I never thought me, Serena Williams, would be in that name group.
"Who am I?" said Williams, who grinned with delight as Evert and Navratilova presented her with a gold bracelet bearing an "18" charm.
"I never thought you would mention my name with such greats and legends."
Williams lifted the trophy at Flushing Meadows for the third straight year, joining Evert as the only woman in the Open era to win three titles in a row and matching Evert's six US Open triumphs. She also offered words of encouragement to her beaten foe, her friend and confidant as both endured difficult months this year.
"Congratulations to Caroline, she knows the struggles I have had," Williams said, adding to her friend: "You will win a Grand Slam title soon."
But former world number one Wozniacki, owner of 22 WTA titles, still has that gaping hole on her resume. The Dane was just 19 when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 US Open final, and she hadn't returned to a Grand Slam title match until Sunday.
With so much on the line for each woman, the first set was a tense affair with few fireworks. After saving a break point in the first game with an ace, Williams made Wozniacki pay for a tight first service game, in which the Dane double faulted twice. Williams seized the break and a 2-0 lead with a pair of stinging service returns.
"I was a little nervous going out there," said Wozniacki, who found the noise in Arthur Ashe Stadium "overwhelming."
"I just wanted to get a good start. I knew that against Serena, you have to have a good start, otherwise she starts going in and being even more aggressive. You know, you're kind of done."
Williams didn't run off with it right away, but a run of five service breaks ended with the American holding for a 5-2 lead, heaping the pressure on Wozniacki to hold for the first time. She did, fending off one break point to force Williams to serve it out.
With a set in hand, Williams was moving more freely. Even luck wasn't going Wozniacki's way, as a net cord bounce in Williams' favor ended a 20-shot rally to give the American a break chance in the first game of the second — which she promptly converted.
Wozniacki's vaunted defensive skills were on full display in the second set as she doggedly ran down balls, but she couldn't match Williams' power and ability to conjure winners from all areas of the court. Williams finished with 29 winners to Wozniacki's four, belting a forehand to give herself match point.
That was the first moment she felt sure of victory, Williams said.
"Other than that I was really tight and nervous the whole match," said Williams, who didn't drop a set in the tournament.
Martina Hingis’ hopes of winning her first Grand Slam doubles title since 2002 were shattered when the Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina took the US Open title.
Hingis, 33, was playing with Italy’s Flavia Pennetta but despite a promising start to the final they went down 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to the fourth seeds.
Hingis last appeared in a doubles final at a Grand Slam in 2002 at the Australian Open where she won the title with Anna Kournikova, one of nine doubles crowns she captured during her heyday. She also captured the 1998 doubles title in New York with Jana Novotna.
“We definitely had our chances, but when we look back starting the tournament, if you ask me to sign a paper that I’m in the finals, I would probably accept it with my eyes closed,” said Hingis.
“When you’re that close of course you want to win. We beat them before. It’s not like we didn’t have a chance. We showed that we can beat the best doubles teams out there today again, but I felt like the juice ran out a little bit at the end.”
Makarova and Vesnina have now won two majors after their 2013 triumph at the French Open.
Meanwhile, Bob and Mike Bryan won their 100th doubles title when they defeated Spain’s Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez for a fifth US Open crown.
The top-seeded American brothers swept to a 6-3, 6-4 win over their 11th-seeded rivals which gave them a 16th Grand Slam title. The 36-year-old world No1 pair were also champions in New York in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
“To win here is extra-special, but I have to congratulate Marcel and Marc, they are a class act,” said Mike Bryan.
“We will keep going, we love this game. We will go to Chicago for the Davis Cup against Slovakia. We hope to do well. We’re not stopping any time soon.”
It’s been five years since a 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki made the finals at the US Open.
Ranked No8 in the world at the time, the Dane hadn’t made it past the fourth round in any of her 10 previous Grand Slam appearances. But her consistent game and exceptional retrieval skills had helped her reach the title match, taking out former champion and big-hitter Svetlana Kuznetsova en route.
In the final, Wozniacki was up against Kim Clijsters, who was returning to the tour as a mother following a two-year retirement and was playing just her third tournament then. The Belgian would go on to make history, becoming the first mother in 29 years to lift a Grand Slam trophy.
Today, Wozniacki finds herself once again standing between her opponent and history, as Serena Williams – the overwhelming favourite – is seeking an 18th major singles title to join legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert in second place on the all-time list.
But much has happened in the five years since Wozniacki’s first attempt at a major triumph.
A rise to No1 in the world, endless criticism of her inability to win a major that would justify her position at the top, a dip in the rankings, and a public engagement followed by an even more public break-up, all made for one brutal emotional rollercoaster for the young Dane, who many forget is just 24.
But what Wozniacki lacks in aggression on court has always been made up for by her incredible fight, and it is that trait that has brought her back to a Grand Slam final.
Her game has been picking up since she made the semis in Eastbourne and she’s now won 24 of her last 29 matches on tour.
In New York this fortnight, she beat reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova in three before surrendering just one game in her straight-set drubbing of Sara Errani.
She averaged 24 winners and 13.5 unforced errors in those two matches. Those are hardly numbers you would associate with Wozniacki, who in the past could go through an entire set without hitting a winner.
Although she’s always resisted adding new elements to her game or relying more on aggression, the current version of Wozniacki has shown a little more “umph” in her shots, which is why she’s been able to stretch Williams to three sets in Montreal and Cincinnati leading up to the Open and why she’ll be facing her in the final today.
It’s unfair and disrespectful to reduce Wozniacki’s recent achievements to being simply an aftermath of her break-up with Rory McIlroy. Her entire career, including all the highs and the lows, have led her back to this point.
In truth, Wozniacki is the toughest nice girl you can find out there and the way she’s stood up to her critics and has mentally matured over the past several years was always going to translate into on-court success sooner or later.
She faces a difficult test today as she takes on a good friend in Williams. The closer the relationship between players, the closer matches usually are.
Still, the odds are stacked in the American’s favour. She’s got the power game, is the two-time defending champion, and is 8-1 head-to-head against Wozniacki.
It’s a perfect opportunity for Wozniacki to try and silence her critics once and for all. Will she take it?