|Victoria Azarenka (BLR)  vs. Li Na (CHN) .|
Here is my prediction for the 2013 Australian Open women's final. I previously correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals and 1 of 2 women's semifinals this year. On the men's side of the draw, I correctly predicted 4 of 4 men's quarterfinals and 2 of 2 men's semifinals this year. Last year I incorrectly predicted the winner of the women's final.
How Did They Get Here?
Na Li (CHN)  d. M. Sharapova (RUS)  6-2 6-2.
Sharapova had run through the first 5 rounds of competition by making a mockery of the word by losing a mere 9 games in the 10 sets played. Li Na had "upset" higher ranked (and hitherto unbeaten in 2013) Agnieska Radwanska in two relatively nervy sets the round before. Most people (yours truly included) expected a scoreline that ended this semifinal, but we expected the Russian to be on top, not the Chinese player! However, despite having a 4-8 career head-to-head deficit and having lost to Sharapova in 3 consecutive meetings in 2012, Li was able to put all that aside and come out firing from the very first ball and outhit and outserved the 4-time major champion. The book on Li Na
V. Azarenka (BLR)  d. S. Stephens, 6-1 6-4.
Despite the score, this was actually quite a tight match, with the result in doubt until the last two games or so. In fact, there is now a significant controversy about the end of the match because after failing to convert 5 match points in the second set, Azarenka inexplicably took a medical time out and left the court for 10 minutes.
Who Will Win?
As with most grand slam finals, the result will settle a number of important issues. Azarenka's #1 WTA tour ranking is
So really the deciding factor should be who is playing better right now, in this tournament, and who will handle the pressure of the moment better. On mental toughness, one has to give the edge to Azarenka, but on the question of who is playing better right now, Li Na's results show that she wins that comparison. Li Na has not lost a set in 6 rounds of play, and despite the fact that they have both hit 128 winners in the tournament I still give the edge to the Chinese player. Li is also serving significantly better, with the same number of aces and double faults while Azarenka only has 12 aces in the tournament compared to twenty-eight double faults. The one significant edge Azarenka has on Li is that she is more than seven years younger, so that Li may be overwhelmed by the occasion if she really does get close to winning her second major tournament. However, I trust that her coach will have prepared her for this moment and the local crowd support should help her over the finish line ahead.
Mad Professah's pick: Li Na.