Victoria Azarenka's parents possessed some prescience when they named their daughter. For some time now, some of us have predicted great things for the 19-year-old, if only she could overcome her nerves. When she finally won a tournament, after having been a finalist in four others, she began to look more confident, and she worked on controlling her temper on court.
Yesterday, against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Azarenka's nerves returned, but she managed to overcome them in the end. Today, playing an injured Serena Williams--after a shaky start--she looked simply marvelous. Hitting powerful groundstrokes and displaying a fluidity of movement that belies her frame, Azarenka won the Sony Ericsson Open, 6-3, 6-1.
We saw top seed Williams limping through her semifinal, so it was no surprise that she had trouble moving in today's final. Her injury spoiled what could have been an outstanding match. Azarenka, for her part, had the maturity to forget her opponent's disability and get on with the match.
Azarenka's path to the final was not an easy one. She defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Anna Chakvetadze, Agnes Szavay, Samantha Stosur, and Kuznetsova. Next week, she will be number 8 in the world.