US Open Tennis 2012: Previewing Sharapova vs. Azarenka and Williams vs. Errani

Alex BallentineFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 05:  Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot against Marion Bartoli of France during their women's singles quarterfinal match on Day Ten of the 2012 U.S. Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood, of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Tennis fans couldn't ask for a more star-studded final four than the one that the 2012 U.S. Open will provide—with Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova battling it out to take on the winner of Serena Williams and Sara Errani.

The final four will be vying for the shot at winning the last grand slam tournament of the season and make a final push to improve their ranking by the end of the year.

Let's take a look at each of these semifinal matchups and predict who we will see in the finals in New York.


Maria Sharapova vs. Victoria Azarenka

Sharapova and Azarenka will square off in what is sure to be an exciting match, as Azarenka is currently ranked as the No. 1 player in the world to Sharapova's No. 3 ranking. Both have been playing great tennis throughout this tournament.

Sharapova and Azarenka have played each other nine times throughout their careers, and Azarenka holds a 5-4 advantage in the series. Perhaps more telling is that the two have played against each other three times in 2012, and Azarenka holds the advantage in that series at 2-1, including two wins on hard court.

However, that doesn't mean that Azarenka is a shoo-in to win this match, as she looked very human against Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals. She needed a third set and a tie break to defeat the Aussie and could be pushed even harder by Sharapova.

For Sharapova's part, she has been to a third set in each of her last two matches but has never needed a tie break. These two come in with an equal amount of momentum and should go to an exciting third set.

Prediction: Azarenka in three sets.


Serena Williams vs. Sara Errani

While Sharapova and Azarenka are nearly identical in terms of odds, the matchup of Serena Williams vs. Sara Errani has a clear favorite.

Williams may not be ranked No.1, but she's been on an absolute tear of late. She's 46-4 this season and hasn't even seen a third set since the Wimbledon final back in July.

Errani has made an impressive run through the tourney, beating the likes of Angelique Kerber and Roberta Vinci in straight sets along the way. However, she'll have a tough mountain to climb as Serena has just been overpowering opponents.

The two have only played three times, with Serena winning all three, but with all of those matches coming in 2009 or later, their history shouldn't play too large of a role in this match.

Prediction: Williams in two sets.