Serena Williams proved too strong for Victoria Azarenka in the second successive US Open final between the pair tonight, winning her fifth singles crown at Flushing Meadows in a titanic three-set tussle.
Williams took on Azarenka in a rematch of their final from last year and made a confident start, breaking in the very first game with a ferocious backhand return.
Azarenka quickly broke back with some impressive hitting of her own across court, with both players finding form on serve in a tight opening set.
Eventually a relentless barrage from the baseline paid dividends for Williams, breaking for a second time to secure a 7-5 success in the first set.
The pressure continued and once again Azarenka wilted early in the second set, failing to hold her first service game to put Williams firmly in control.
Three double faults in a disastrous service game soon had the Belarusian 4-1 behind, but a spirited response saw the world number two break back to stay in touch.
With victory in sight Serena twice served for the championship, but allowed Azarenka off the hook as unforced errors became commonplace in windy conditions.
Williams then started to struggle on serve and was punished by a terrific response from Azarenka, who forced a deciding set by claiming a tense tie-breaker.
After regaining her composure Williams delivered when it mattered most, claiming successive breaks before finally finishing the job in a dominant final set as Azarenka failed to maintain her improved display.
The 31-year-old was pushed all the way but eventually claimed her 17th Grand Slam singles title with a gruelling 7-5 6-7(8) 6-1 success.