- Plays of the Day
Azarenka's top-class defenceESPN staff September 7, 2012
Precision to complement the power
Maria Sharapova's clash with Victoria Azarenka was billed as a battle of brutal baseline hitting. That is the default setting for both, but Sharapova showed in the fifth game of the first set that she has other strings to her bow. One such string was a brilliant lob. Azarenka made a foray to the net behind a decent approach, but she was left a spectator as Sharapova got down and rolled a topspin backhand lob over a stranded Azarenka.
Wrong hand, right result
Sharapova was forced from side to side and was pushed so far out of position that she had to throw up a lob with her left hand. It was nothing more than an attempt to make Azarenka play one more ball. It worked, although it shouldn't have, as she gave Azarenka an easy drive volley but she sent it flying into the net.
At 2-2 in the final set, Azarenka came under pressure at advantage up. Sharapova teed off on balls on both wings, forcing Azarenka to dash along the baseline. She kept retrieving but her shots had less and less force, Sharapova came in for the kill and powered a drive at Azarenka who instinctively threw out a racket and sent the ball up the line to win the point and the game.
A good big one beats a good little one
Serena Williams brought her awesome power to the table and she simply swatted away the challenge of the diminutive Sara Errani. Italian Errani has had a fine time this season, but a semi-final clash with an in-form and hungry Williams had the look of a step too far. And so it proved as Williams toyed with Errani, waiting for the opening before using her awesome power to slam the ball away. Time and again Errani saw the ball flying past her at great pace as she was crushed in a shade over an hour.
Brothers on top
The Bryan brothers, Mike and Bob, are the doubles team to beat and they proved it with a comprehensive win over Radek Stepanek and Leander Paes in the men's doubles final. They instinctively know where to be at any given moment, play aggressive and it all proved too much for Paes and Stepanek. The Bryans have won at least one grand slam doubles title every year since 2005 and this was their fourth US Open title and 12th grand slam crown - which takes them above Tood Woodbridge and Mark Woodford as the winning-most partnership in the Open era.
Beaten for Paes
Leander Paes is one of the most talented doubles players on the planet, but he was made to look like a park hacker when receiving serve from Bob Bryan. The left handed Bryan sent a serve powering down the tee. Paes had a good look at it and teed off on a backhand return, but was left looking for potential holes in his racket when completely missing the ball.