Victoria Azarenka vs Serena Williams: Breaking Down US Open Women's Final

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07:  Serena Williams of the United States celebrates a point in the women's singles semifinal match against Sara Errani of Italy on Day Twelve of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The U.S. Open could not have asked for a better final than the matchup of Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams.

Despite being ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in the world, these are arguably the two best players in women's tennis. Each have won a Grand Slam this season and Williams added an Olympic gold medal as well. In this tournament, the two have combined to lose only two sets.

Now they must face each other in what should be a highly competitive final.


Keys for Serena Williams

The way the American has been playing, it does not look like anyone in the world can beat her. After losing to Williams in the semifinals, Sara Errani told ESPN, "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."

With a serve that is approaching 120 MPH at times, it would not be out of the question to believe she could compete.

That serve is what will help her in this final against the top seed. In her last match, Williams won 92 percent of her first serves and never reached a break point. Obviously, Azarenka will provide a tougher challenge on the return, but she needs to continue to focus on getting her first serve in play and use that to her advantage.

When not serving, she needs to cut down on her unforced errors. In a short match against Errani, she had 21 unforced errors. Her toughest challenge in the tournament came in the second round against Maria Martinez Sanchez when she had six double faults. 

If she keeps her focus and can remain consistent with her serve, she should come out victorious.


Keys for Victoria Azarenka

As well as Williams has played over the past two months, she can be defeated. The last two major wins have taken place on the grass courts at Wimbledon, while Azarenka has a bigger advantage on hard courts where she is 32-2 this season. In fact, Williams has not won a Grand Slam on a hard court since 2010.

Azarenka will win this match if she is able to get into longer rallies with her opponent. Williams will obviously have an advantage with her serve, but the Belarusian is great with cross court shots. On rallies that last 5-10 strokes or more, Azarenka can get some good winners. She has also been very successful at the net and should use that often.

Long rallies could also help wear down the 30-year-old Williams, who has not had to play a third set all tournament. In most matches, she is barely playing longer than an hour.

Conversely, Azarenka has proven that she can go deep into matches all year long. Including wins in the quarterfinal and semifinal, she is now 12-0 this year in three-set matches. She has great durability and can defeat anyone if it goes the distance.



Although Serena Williams is currently the No. 4 player in the world, she will not stay down for long. She is currently in a groove so good that it does not seem like anyone can beat her. The combination of a hard serve with her renewed focus make for a deadly combination for all opponents.

Williams should be able to win this match in straight sets, although Azarenka should be able to win more games than any of her previous opponents.