Victoria Azarenka stretches to make a backhanded return against Serena… (Karim Jafaar / AFP/Getty…)
With her march back to the No. 1 ranking complete, Serena Williams promptly lost in the finals of the Qatar Open to the woman she will replace atop the world rankings.
It's odd how sports and rankings work that way.
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus successfully defender her Qatar Open title by defeating Williams, 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-3, on Sunday in Doha. It was Azarenka's 14th consecutive victory this season, including her triumph in the Australian Open last month.
And, despite ending a 10-match losing streak to Williams, her American rival will somehow replace her atop the WTA rankings on Monday.
"I just wanted to fight and give it my best, give myself every opportunity I can," Azarenka said. "I started with love-30 [in the third set] and I was like, 'You have to keep it together. You have to do something.' Serena was on a roll ... so I had to really step up my game. I'm really glad I could turn it around and stay tough."
Azarenka can reclaim the No. 1 ranking by reaching the final at Dubai next week. If Williams, who is also entered in the tournament, reaches the final, the winner of the championship match would claim the top ranking.
"I'm definitely not happy, but I'm No. 1," Williams said after the defeat. "It was such a long journey, and after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the [WTA] championships, I thought, I just don't think I can win anymore. I don't know what it takes to be No. 1. So it was awesome to come here and achieve that goal.
"This whole week, I just don't think I played my best tennis, and I was fighting every match," she said. "I can't play that quality game against a top player like Victoria. I have to be able to pick up my game, and I wasn't able to do that today. I stayed at a two out of a 10, and I can't play that low."
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