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U.S. Open: Serena Williams passes test against Victoria Azarenka

September 3, 2011 |  3:41 pm

Serena Williams, who was up a set and a break, withstood a furious rally from fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka and advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open with a 6-1, 7-6 (5) win that took 1 hour, 50 minutes and featured powerful rallies filled with shots of startling accuracy and power from both women.

Williams -- whose ranking (28th) suffered during her nearly year-long absence from tennis due to injuries beginning in July of 2010 -- seemed to have won the match in the ninth game of the final set when she had Azarenka down 30-40 as the Belorussian was serving. Williams hit a forehand that appeared to have just hit the sideline. Williams and Azarenka began walking off the court, but a lines person had called the ball out. Williams asked for a review, and the replay showed that Williams' shot was out.

From there, Azarenka held serve to stay in the match and broke Williams, whose concentration seemed rattled, in the next game to tie the second set at 5-5 and send the match to a tiebreak.

"She started to get better at that 5-3 game," Williams said. "All I was thinking was, 'Man, at least I won the first set, worst case scenario."

Williams had 12 aces and 39 winners, to 24 for Azarenka.


Roger Federer defeats Marin Cilic

Donald Young upsets Stan Wawrinka

Flavia Penetta upsets Maria Sharapova

-- Diane Pucin in New York

Photo: Serena Williams does the splits while returning a shot during her victory over Victoria Azarenka at the U.S. Open on Saturday. Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters