Williams disposed of No. 5 seed Li Na on Friday, 6-0, 6-3. Azarenka defeated underdog Flavia Pennetta, 6-4, 6-2.
Williams historically holds a significant edge over Azarenka in their head-to-head matchups, but Azarenka has proven to be a challenge for the 16-time Grand Slam singles champion in two of their last three meetings.
Azarenka vies for her first career U.S. Open crown on Sunday, while the defending champion goes for her fifth.
Here's a breakdown of the 2013 U.S. Open women's final, complete with my prediction.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of USOpen.org unless otherwise indicated.
|6:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.||U.S. Open Daily Match Encores||Tennis Channel|
|12:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.||Men's Doubles Final||ESPN2|
|4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.||Women's Singles Final||CBS|
|8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.||SportsCenter at the U.S. Open||ESPN2|
|9:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.||U.S. Open Daily Match Encores||Tennis Channel|
Where: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
When: Sunday, Sept. 8
Watch: CBS and Tennis Channel
Breakdown and Prediction
While Williams owns a commanding 12-3 lifetime mark against Azarenka, Azarenka has won two of their last three matchups.
The 24-year-old defeated the historic veteran in Doha and Cincinnati this year, while losing in Rome.
The big thing for Azarenka against Williams is her serve. She has a tremendous return game that has helped her against Williams this year, but she must take advantage of service games if she is to upset the world No. 1.
Case in point: As I wrote on Friday, Azarenka won at least 56 percent of service points in her wins against Williams in Doha and Cincinnati, but captured only 43 percent of service points in her loss in Rome, via WTATennis.com. She also racked up a combined 14 aces in her two wins against Williams, while posting zero aces in her loss this year to the 31-year-old.
The question is, will Azarenka's so-so performance on the serve against Pennetta carry over to the final, or will she find her groove just in time for her match against the four-time U.S. Open champ?
How she answers that question could very well determine the match.
Williams defeated Na in just 87 minutes on Friday, per USOpen.org. She won 76 percent of first-serve points and 53 percent of return points while collecting four aces and 19 winners. She was the resounding favorite to win the 2013 U.S. Open coming into the tournament, and that hasn't changed.
While Azarenka defeated Pennetta in straight sets, she needs to raise her level of play even more against Williams on Sunday.
As Erin Bruehl of USOpen.org noted:
Regardless, get ready for a battle between the two best players in women's tennis right now.
Prediction: Williams 6-3, 5-7, 6-4