Victoria Azarenka lifted her second BNP Paribas Open title and her 19th singles title after soundly defeating top seed Serena Williams 6-4, 6-4 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday.
Williams was broken at love in the opening game and trailed her rival from then on in their 21st meeting on the WTA Tour. The two-time BNP Paribas Open champion ('99, d. Graf; '01, d. Clijsters) failed to convert her five break chances against the Belarusian Azarenka -- in the sixth and eighth games -- to concede the first set in 41 minutes.
Azarenka's tremendous defense and powerful baseline arsenal continued to chip away at Williams, who did not get on the scoreboard in the second set until a service hold for 1-4.
Williams roared back in the eighth game to break Azarenka, but it was too late for the 21-time Grand Slam champion. Azarenka swatted away two of Williams' break point opportunities, saving 11 of 12 break points overall. She clinched victory in 88 minutes, after her opponent's groundstroke sailed long.
"Well, I [had] to go for it. She's not a type of player that if you are going to play save, she's going to give [you the point] or she's going to miss," said Azarenka. "You really have to go out there and take away, because there is nothing coming easy.
"My mentality was just to stay calm, do what I think is right, play aggressive, play my game, and figure it out from there. I just really try to stay in the moment. Whatever I can do, you know, whatever the score is, the next-best point what I can play."
The 13th-seeded Azarenka improved to 4-17 against the World No. 1, recording her first victory against Williams since the 2013 Cincinnati final.
"You truly inspired so many people out there," said Azarenka to Williams in the on-court trophy presentation. "Thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. You've changed our game."
Along with the prestigious Baccarat trophy, Azarenka receives $1,028,300 in prize money and 1000 WTA ranking points. For her effort, Williams receives a runner-up trophy, $501,815 in prize money, and and 650 ranking points.
"The last moment I had here wasn't so great," Williams told the crowd. "Thank you so much. The cheers... I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me."
Watch Serena Speech
This is Azarenka’s second title at Indian Wells (also 2012, d. Sharapova) and her second trophy of the season, after claiming the Brisbane title (d. Kerber) to open her season.