The world number one Serena Williams is set to take on Victoria "Vika" Azarenka this evening in a repeat of the 2012 US Open final. Williams will undoubtedly walk out on court as firm favourite to defend her title but there is no such thing as an easy game against the Belarusian, known for her resilience and dogged displays even when playing badly.
Williams has continued her 2012 form into 2013, racking up numerous titles along the way (including the French Open title at Roland Garros) but there is undoubtedly a clinical edge in her game that was present in 2012 yet has been lost during this campaign.
Williams had her American counterpart Sloane Stephens on the ropes at the Australian Open but lack of concentration in the second set resulted in her dropping serve and from there on it was plain sailing for Stephens as she took control by winning the second set and then went on to totally outplay Serena in the final set.
It was very much a similar scenario for the 31-year-old at the Wimbledon Championships against Sabine Lisicki, with sets tied at 1-1 and Serena 3-0 up on games it was expected to be a procession. Inability to play the big points well cost the American, as Lisicki fought back to claim the final set in a pulsating match on Centre Court.
For Azarenka, it has been a mixed year. Having won the Australian Open in January, her form has curtailed slightly but she seems to have taken a massive boost of confidence by beating Williams in Cincinnati, having been a set down. That has allowed her to grind out results despite not playing her best tennis throughout the US Open this year.
The American has swept aside all of her opponents thus far with her powerful forehand and serve but she is facing an opponent prepared to stay in long rallies. Azarenka has served poorly throughout the tournament and has a vulnerable second serve so the match will be won and lost based on her ability to keep her first serve percentage high.
Prediction: Serena Williams to win 2-1
First Set: Williams
Second Set: Azarenka
Third Set: Williams
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