Saturday, May 12, 2012

Together again--Williams and Azarenka

The 2012 Madrid final is about as good as it gets. World number 1 Victoria Azarenka will play former world number 1 Serena Williams for the title. Williams is 6-1 against Azarenka (Azarenka's win involved an injured Williams), and--to make things more interesting--the pair has never before met on a clay court.

It sounds odd to express anticipation about a match-up that is so lopsided, but the Azarenka of today is not the same Azarenka who used to give way so easily to temper tantrums, thigh injuries, and conditions that literally brought her to the ground. This new Azarenka is tough and confident, and is probably more ready than ever to take on Williams.

Clay is not the favorite surface of either player, and--since clay is the great equalizer--the match could get interesting. Azarenka is going to have to lift her service game another notch in order to keep things at a very competitive level. At this point, both women have to be considered among potential French Open winners. For several years, Williams has not really been a big favorite to win in France, but her performance in Charleston caused many of us to keep her in the mix.

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