"Vika's such a great opponent, such a great fighter," Williams said, "and that's why she's been able to win multiple Grand Slams. That's why it was never over until match point."
Yes, this one did not come easily, even though it appeared to be nearly over when Williams went ahead by two breaks at 4-1 in the second set. Williams served for the match at 5-4 and 6-5 -- only to have the gutsy Azarenka break each time.
This was a rematch of last year's final, also won by Williams in three sets, and two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka provided another challenge with her big swings off both wings.
"It is a tough loss, but to be in the final and play against the best player -- who deserves to win today -- it's incredible," said Azarenka, who is from Belarus. "I gave it all today. We showed our hearts. We fought hard."
Four times, Azarenka was only two points from taking the opening set. At one such moment, with Williams serving at deuce after a double-fault, she was called for a foot fault, erasing what would have been a 121 mph ace. There was another foot-fault call in the second set, too. They brought back memories of the American's loss to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 semifinals, when Williams was docked a point, and later fined, for a tirade against a line judge over a foot-fault call.
Hornets Fall to Curry in Home Opener
LYNDON CENTER -- Richkaard Verrier scored two goals and Matt Cotnior had three assists to lead Curry to a 5-1 victory over Lyndon Sunday in the Hornets' home opener.
Sam Babchuck gave the Colonels a 1-0 lead in the first half when he punched home a through ball from Cotnoir. Less than three minutes later, Cotnoir was at it again setting up Nick Gillman for a score that gave Curry a quick 2-0 lead.
Lyndon responded at 15:38 when Lueth Ajok Lueth picked off an errant pass and deposited a shot into the lower left corner of the net that cut the deficit back to one goal. However, the Colonels would regain their two-goal lead with 11:58 left to play as Tim Stein found the back of the net off an assists from Cotnoir.
Nick Barber, the first of three Curry goalkeepers in the contest, got the win while Jason Marks, who was relieved by Ben Estes in the second half, took the loss.
Barber, Dan Johnson and former Lisbon (N.H.) Panther Andrew Knighton combined to make three saves, while Marks and Estes collected six. The Colonels outshot Lyndon 22-4.
CURRY 3, LSC 1: Also at LSC, Curry ran its record to a perfect 3-0 Sunday with a 3-1 victory. The loss drops the Hornets to 0-3 on the season.
Alayna Coakley scored the first of her two goals - an unassisted marker - at the 6:00 mark of the first half to give the Colonels the lead for good. Less than 10 minutes later she would strike again, beating Hornet goalie Marley Harmon off an assist from Stefanie Faucher.
Kaitlyn Lima scored an unassisted goal with 19:33 remaining until halftime and Curry managed to hold their three-goal advantage until late in the game. With less than three minutes to play, former Concord (Vt.) Wildcat Kaitlyn Conley punched home the rebound of a Taylor Trask shot to get the Hornets on the board.
Curry had a 38-10 advantage in shots.