Sunday, August 18, 2013
At the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Serena Williams will face Victoria Azarenka in Sunday's final. Serena defeated defending champion Li Na 7-5 7-5 in a very tight semifinal match which featured 12 breaks of serve. But that was just the warm-up for the clash between Jelena Jankovic and Azarenka which turned into a 3-set serving disaster that included an astonishing 23 breaks of serve and a combined 20 double faults. Vika eventually prevailed 4-6 6-2 6-3.
Today's final will be a reprise of last year's US Open final which was won in dramatic fashion by Serena despite Azarenka leading 5-3 in the 3rd set and this year's Doha final which was won by Vika 7-6(6) 2-6 6-3.
Serena won last week in Toronto and is playing well this summer, having only lost three times this year and won her 2nd French Open title. That being said, she did not look that good against Li Na and clearly had some kind of abdominal injury which hampered her ability to hit her serve as fast as she wanted. She has clinched the US Open Series title one week early and is eligible for up to $1 million in bonus prize money if she defends her title in New York.
Azarenka defended her major title in Australia earlier this year and knows that she has the game to defeat Serena, even though she has only ever done it twice in fourteen meetings. Her only other win was in the final of the 2009 Miami title when Serena was injured.
I believe Serena will win the match, but it will not be easy. If she really is injured enough so that she can't get free points on her serve that will make it a long day at the office. She has a much better return of serve and a better serve (when not injured) than Jankovic so that will make this a much tougher match-up for Vika. That being said, the fact Serena has never won this title before and that she is playing one of the few people who ha beaten her all year should make it an interesting match. That being said, there's a reason why Serena sports a 12-2 head-to-head versus Azarenka (7-2 on hard courts and only 3-2 in finals). MadProfessah's pick: Serena.