Tennis: Williams matches Federer's title record

By Jim Slater

World No 1 Serena Williams matched Roger Federer's all-time men's grand slam titles record with victory over second-ranked Victoria Azarenka in the longest women's US Open final in more than 30 years.

Williams equalled Federer's 17 career majors with a 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 victory in a marathon final lasting 2h 45min yesterday.

"Yeah, that's pretty cool. It's an honour to be even with Roger," Williams said. "He has been such a great champion throughout the years and he's just an unbelievable competitor. It feels really good to be in that same league as him."

Winning a fifth US Open just 18 days before turning 32 has given her some age-defying and record-rivalling grand slam ideas.

The 31-year-old American is the oldest open-era women's winner in New York - 293 days older than Margaret Smith Court was when the Australian won in 1973.

"I feel great. I have never felt better," Williams said. "I feel really fit. I'm excited about the possibilities. I don't know what can happen."

Williams, who won her first grand slam at the US Open in 1999 at age 17, has also won five Wimbledon and Australian Open titles as well as taking her second French Open crown earlier this year.

"Being older, it's always awesome and such a great honour because I don't know if I'll ever win another grand slam," Williams said. "It has more meaning in history. It's definitely a different feeling."

Williams collected US$3.6 million ($4.5 million) including a US$1 million bonus for her success in US open tune-up events after winning a rematch of last year's final that gave her and Azarenka a combined total of six of the eight major titles. Williams improved to 13-3 in their rivalry but two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka had won two of the previous three, most recently in last month's Cincinnati final.

"It was never over until match point," said Williams, who was broken twice in the second set when serving for the match.

Azarenka admitted Williams was the superior performer in windy conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"It's a tough loss but being in the final against the best player, who deserves the win, it's incredible," Azarenka said. "I gave it everything I had. I fought hard."

Williams matched Steffi Graf for second on the open era list with five US Open trophies, one shy of Chris Evert's record. Graf has the open-era record of 22 while Smith Court owns the all-time mark of 24.

It was the longest women's final since timing began in 1980.

With the victory, Williams has won more than US$9 million in 2013, a one-year women's record. She also has 55 career titles in total.

Williams has won the US Open in 1999, 2002, 2008 and 2012. She said her slam triumphs mean more after suffering blood clots in her lungs in 2011 that jeopardised her life and left her at times "lying in bed and thinking I will never play again". "It's definitely sweeter," she said.

The men's final between No 1 Novak Djokovic and No 2 Rafael Nadal is on this morning.

- AFP

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