Just two women remain and it is the final that most wanted and predicted; world number 1, Serena Williams will take on world number 2, Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of last year's US Open final where Azarenka served for the title, but was undone by Serena who came away with a 6-2 2-6 7-5 win and the title. Serena's route through the draw has been rather impeccable losing just 16 games and dishing out five bagel sets. Her toughest match came in the hotly anticipated 4th round match with Sloane Stephens where she won 6-4 6-1.
Serena came through a forgettable semi-final against a disappointing Li Na, 6-0 6-3. I do not think Serena played that great in the second set, which kind of shows how poor Li was. The last 15 minutes of the match were terrific though with Li saving 6 match points and if only she had come out with that intensity from the beginning then we may have had a competitive match.
Azarenka's progression through the draw has been much tougher with two sets dropped in the 3rd and 4th rounds to Alize Cornet and Ana Ivanovic respectively. Straight set wins over Daniela Hantuchova and Flavia Pennetta in the past two rounds were both solid, but unspectacular. The Belarusian has not played at her best this week with the serve being an inherent weakness throughout the past couple of months. Her game from the back of the court has been more than enough to overshadow the serving yips. However when it comes to the final tomorrow against the power machine of Serena, a poor serving performance is not going to cut it.
The Serena-Azarenka match-up has shown real signs this year of becoming THE top WTA rivalry. Serena leads the head-to-head by 12 wins to 3; however Azarenka's 3 wins all came in finals and she is 2-1 in 2013. In Cincy, Azarenka similarly struggled to produce her best form throughout the week, playing a break-happy semi-final with Jelena Jankovic; however she raised her game to take the title with a third set tiebreak win over an albeit tiring Serena.
Yes, Azarenka's wins this year over Serena in Doha and Cincy have been when Serena was not at her best. There is no doubting that Serena's A-game is better than Azarenka's A-game, but that belief and grittiness that Azarenka has displayed in recent encounters is a crucial factor in this match-up because she has the ability to get Serena on the ropes and prevent her from playing her best tennis. Li didn't have it yesterday, but Vika does have the belief that she can beat Serena. I have been a little safe with my predictions this week, but on this occasion, I am going for Azarenka to win her first US Open title....
Prediction - Azarenka to beat Serena in 3 sets