5. Roland Garros R3: Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka 3-6 6-4 6-2
Victoria Azarenka came extremely close to prematurely ending Serena’s 2015 Roland Garros campaign when they met in the third round in Paris. The Belarussian led Serena by a set and a break but was unable to finish off the world number 1, a reoccurring theme in their matches in season 2015. Matches between Serena and Vika are famous for their extremely high intensity, this one was no different and it was played at a very high standard, from start to finish.
Serena and Vika’s third round clash in Paris loomed as a very difficult early round test for the American, one that she was able to navigate her way through. An inspired Azarenka took a 6-3 4-2 lead in this match and seem well positioned to cause an upset. However just like their meeting in Madrid a couple of weeks prior to this match, Azarenka would get tight as the finish line neared whilst Serena Williams would raise her level to ultimately force a deciding set.
Serena really ran away with the match in the deciding set, once again proving too strong for Azarenka when it mattered most. Serena finished the match with 41 winners and 21 unforced errors whilst Azarenka ended the match with 21 winners and 21 unforced errors.
4. Birmingham F: Angelique Kerber d. Karolina Pliskova 6-7 6-3 7-6
The Birmingham Final between Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova was a classic. A high quality, close encounter featuring contrasting styles resulting in a supremely entertaining match. Angie’s fighting qualities really stood out in this match, the German was able to come from a set and a break down against a red-hot Pliskova to claim her first career title on a grass court.
Unpredictability and continuous momentum swings were a key feature in this match. Kerber was in control for the majority of the opening set but failed to serve it out at 5-4 before Pliskova just edged past the German in the tiebreak. Pliskova captured an early break in the second to take a commanding lead but Kerber would raise her level to win 6 of the next 8 games to force a deciding set. Angie hit 13 winners and just 2 unforced errors in the second set.
The third set was a lot like the first, Kerber led by at least a break for the majority. Kerber had numerous chances to go up a double break but Pliskova came up with some big serves to keep herself in the match. Kerber would again fail to close out the set at 5-4 before being pushed all the way to a tiebreak. With everything to play for in the tiebreak, it was Kerber who stepped up and executed her game to claim an outstanding victory.
Kerber finished the match with 34 winners and just 14 unforced errors whilst Pliskova finished with 51 winners and 42 unforced errors.
3. Stanford QF: Angelique Kerber d. Agnieszka Radwanska 4-6 6-4 6-4
The quarter-final clash between Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska at Stanford was magical. Spectacular shotmaking was the key theme in this match, both ladies generally had to come up with something quite special just to win a point in this match-up.
Radwanska was a walking highlight reel for the majority of the match and seemed to be heading towards a straight set victory. However despite being the better player for almost all of the first two sets Radwanska was unable to capitalise, Kerber’s famous fight and determination kept her in the match and would pounce at her first real opportunity to send the match to a deciding set.
There was no letup from either lady in the deciding set, both continued to play jaw-dropping tennis. It was Kerber who was ultimately more solid and reliable under pressure at the end of the deciding set. Kerber would win the match and eventually go on to win the title in Stanford.
2. Wimbledon QF: Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka 3-6 6-2 6-3
Serena and Vika’s third and final meeting in 2015 was their best. The match followed a very similar pattern to their two previous matches in 2015, Azarenka opened up a commanding lead before Serena Williams came fighting back to take the match in 3 sets. Their quarter-final meeting at Wimbledon may not have been their most dramatic clash but it was certainly their highest quality match of the year.
A determined Victoria Azarenka came out firing in this match to take the opening set, Serena had to respond and she certainly did. Serena’s level of play in the second and third sets was arguably the best she played all year. Azarenka played her part in the match, keeping pretty close in the deciding set, only one break of serve was the difference in the end. Serena finished the match with 46 winners including 17 aces and just 12 unforced errors whilst Azarenka finished the match with 20 winners and 11 unforced errors.
Serena and Vika’s rivalry remains the best rivalry on the WTA tour. Hopefully Vika can continue to build her ranking in 2016 and these two will play many great matches towards the end of the biggest tournaments.
1. U.S Open R3: Victoria Azarenka def. Angelique Kerber 7-5 2-6 6-4
Picking the match of the season was actually quite easy this year, Victoria Azarenka’s epic third round victory over Angelique Kerber in New York stood out from the rest of the matches. This match was played at an unbelievably high quality from start to finish and ended in dramatic circumstances when Angelique Kerber saved 5 match points an epic service game before Azarenka eventually served out the match.
The drama towards the end of the first set was equally memorable. Kerber seemed to be in total control when she served for the set at 5-3, however the German was unable to convert set point and despite saving multiple break points was unable to hold the Belarussian back. A determined Vika would go on to win the next three games to take the opening set. Kerber came back with a vengeance in the second set, rocketing her way back into the match with a clinical set of tennis to level the match at one set apiece.
Azarenka claimed a crucial break in the middle of the deciding set and forced Kerber to serve to stay in the match at 3-5. The ninth game of the set would end being one of the best games of tennis of the year, Kerber would save 5 match points, the majority were saved with winners. Kerber would eventually hold and force Azarenka to serve out the match. The Belarussian made no mistake, holding to love to clinch a memorable victory.