Serena Williams may be just the fourth seed in the 2012 U.S. Open, but she enters the finals as a decided favorite over top-seeded Victoria Azarenka. Williams hasn't lost a set thus far in the tournament and holds a 9-1 career mark over her next opponent.
When Williams is on top of her game, as she's been since her shocking first-round ousting at the French Open, she's virtually unbeatable.
Williams is looking to build on her 2012 Wimbledon championship and Olympic gold medal in ladies singles with her fourth U.S. Open title. She's keeping a level head, though.
Serena Williams: I feel like I'm going up against the most consistent and the best player this year, being Victoria Azarenka. #usopen— NYT Straight Sets (@NYTStraightSets) September 8, 2012
Sara Errani, who dropped the semifinal match to Williams 6-1, 6-2, believes that Williams can be beaten. But she also suggested in an Associated Press story that Williams try her luck against a different type of opponent.
She's not unbeatable. No one is unbeatable. Anyone can lose. But if she plays well, she's the best in the world.
It's stressful against her. She puts a lot of pressure on you. You need to play quickly. You don't have even a tiny chance to control a point the way you would want to.
Given that men are always quick to say women are a lot worse...I'd love to see her play in a (lower-level) men's tournament and see how they deal with her. It's easy to talk. On the court, it would be different.
I've practiced with a lot of guys ranked 400th or 500th. I've never played with a man who hits as hard as she does.
Errani's goal was to make her match last as long as she could against Williams. She eclipsed the hour mark by four minutes.
Azarenka could be a bit gassed going into the final. She played a two-hour, 42-minute semifinal match in blistering heat on Friday, rallying from an opening-set loss against Maria Sharapova to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
The closest match Williams has had thus far was a 6-2, 6-4 win over Maria Jose Martinez. Williams has lost just 19 games in her six matches for an average of 3.167 games per match.
Azarenka will step on the court with a stated goal of winning. She recognizes a change is needed after losing to Williams the last seven times they've met.
But she won't be watching prior matches to get ideas on how to best Williams.
"I don't want to be depressed," she stated with a laugh. "There's not really something that you can look at."
She then continued in the more serious tone. "I've got to do something different, to be honest, because the other times didn't really work for me. I definitely have to try to make sure that I'm the one who dictates the play and try to control the match as much as possible."
Perhaps Azarenka believes she can control play and secure a win, but more likely she will be following the lead of Errani and looking for a moral victory. Winning six games would be the best showing any player has made against Williams in the 2012 Open.
Perhaps she could take solace in that effort, but she won't get there.
Williams will cruise to a 6-3, 6-2 victory. This will be her 15th Grand Slam title and make her the first woman over the age of 30 to win the U.S. Open since Martina Navratilova's win in 1987.
This would also be the first time a lady won the Wimbledon and U.S. Open championships in the same year since 2002. The last woman to accomplish that feat...Serena Williams.