Saturday, 8 September 2012

Womens US Open Final Serena Williams v Victoria Azarenka: Preview and Predictions

Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka will contest the 2012 US Open final tonight under the lights of the Arthur Ashe stadium.  Serena Williams has been in utterly devastating form up to this stage and she continued her destruction of the draw with a 6-1 6-2 thrashing of Sara Errani in the semi-finals.  In truth, her draw has not been as testing as Azarenka's with Errani and Ana Ivanovic the highest seeds she has had to play, but no-one can doubt that she will be the favourite going into the final.

Victoria Azarenka has looked back to her very best form that saw her win four titles at the beginning of the year including the Australian Open.  She defeated Maria Sharapova in a thrilling slugfest of a semi-final, 3-6 6-2 6-4.  In particular, the third set was of the highest order and Azarenka has demonstrated the tremendous improvements she has made in her mental game to defeat Stosur and Sharapova in tough three setters.  She is still unbeaten in three set matches in 2012 and broke Sharapova's unbeaten record in three setters, which had stretched back to the US Open last year where she lost to Flavia Pennetta.

Everything points to Serena winning another US Open title; she has lost just one match since the French Open to Angelique Kerber in Cincy and she has been utterly dominant on the tour, particularly through the grass court season.  She has also had great success over Azarenka winning nine of their ten matches and in the one that the Belarusian did win, Serena was rather hampered by an injury in the 2009 Miami final.  There have been some tough encounters over the time and I thought Azarenka actually did a good job in the semi-finals of Wimbledon this year.  She lost 6-3 7-6, but faced an onslaught of 24 aces from Serena, which is a whole set of aces!

The key for Azarenka is to serve well and start strong.  In their last four encounters, Azarenka has lost the first set handily before posing a tougher test in the following set.  If she is to upstage Serena then she has to start with intent and give Serena something to think about.  If Azarenka can get Serena on the ropes then she does have a chance in this match.  This US Open has been a really strong one for the ladies and some of the matches over the last few days have been extremely encouraging for the future of the tour.  I think the final will be another good match and that Azarenka will have the strength and courage to force it into three sets, but I still believe Serena will be too tough on the day...
Prediction - Serena to beat Azarenka in three sets

You can view my original predictions that I made for the womens draw at the start of the fortnight.  Unfortunately I have missed the boat again and once more, when I predict against Serena she goes and nails it! I will learn!!!

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