the first grand slam final of the year, World #1 Victoria Azarenka will face World #2 Maria Sharapova in the championship match of the 2012 Indian Wells tournament on Sunday. Azarenka won her first major final in that Australian Open final over Sharapova 6-3 6-0 and in fact has not lost a match all year long, she is 22-0 so far, netting 3 titles (Sydney, Melbourne and Doha). Azarenka has been playing excellent tennis after her first match in the desert, and nearly double-bageled World #5 Agnieska Radwanska two rounds ago, in the quarterfinal, eventually winning 6-0 6-2. In the semifinals, Azarenka dispatched red-hot Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-3. Sharapova advanced when a back-to-form Ana Ivanovic was forced to retire at the beginning of the second set after having lost the first set to the Russian.
Sharapova will almost certainly be gunning for revenge against the player who forced her to eat a bagel in a grand slam championship match just 6 weeks ago. Azarenka leads their career head-to-head 4-3 and has won both of their championship final matches (Miami 2011 and Melbourne 2012).
I had previously predicted that Sharapova would beat Azarenka in the Australian Open, mostly because I didn't think Azarenka would win her first major final and clinch #1 so quickly. However, Azarenka showed her mental toughness to the whole world, and coupled with her impressive physical prowess she has begun to optimize her tennis results.
MadProfessah's Prediction: Azarenka (in 3 sets).