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Serena Williams rebounds from French collapse to U.S. Open final

Since losing in the first round of the French Open, Serena Williams has refocused. She takes on world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the U.S. Open women's final.

September 08, 2012|By Diane Pucin

NEW YORK -- When Serena Williams lost in the first round of the French Open, a stunning, three-set collapse against Virginie Razzano who would say afterward that she was not the better player, Williams was emotionally distraught.

And her reaction to that loss was telling.

Williams, who has an apartment in France, began working with French coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Since that stunning French Open loss, Williams has dropped only 17 games while winning an Olympic gold medal and dropped 19 games in six matches so far at the U.S. Open. Williams won Wimbledon too, in a different way, by persevering through three three-set matches and the loss of 66 games over the fortnight.

"I didn't play great at Wimbledon, and I won," Williams said. "I played better at the Olympics and the U.S. Open."

Williams will aim for her fourth U.S. Open title and 15th major championship Sunday against world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka, a 23-year-old from Belarus who won her first major at the 2012 Australian, has a 1-9 record against Williams and has lost her last seven matches to Williams.

"It's going to be a big adversity on this court," Azarenka said. "You have to be prepared to make sure you want to dig deep and accept the challenge.

"With Serena, it's not long rallies. It's about who grabs the first opportunity, who is more brave to step it up right from the beginning."

The women's final was pushed back to Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PDT from Saturday. Predictions of severe weather forced the United States Tennis Assn. to make the change.

This could be the fourth year in a row the women's final will be played Sunday instead of in prime time on Saturday night.

Earlier in this tournament, Williams said one of the things Mouratoglou had taught her was patience.

Lack of patience may have cost Williams the title the last two times she played here — in 2011 and 2009. Last year, while being beaten by Samantha Stosur, Williams greeted one of her own winners with a loud noise before the ball landed. She lost the point when the umpire called hindrance, and Stosur went on to win the title. Williams angrily chastised the official.

In the 2009 semifinals, on another rainy day, Williams was called for a foot fault in the final game against Kim Clijsters. The seldom-made call sent Williams into a tantrum in which she used her racket and unseemly words to yell at the official. She also lost that match.

Williams hasn't won here since 2008.

diane.pucin@latimes.com

twitter.com/mepucin

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