US Open 2013 Women's Finals: Keys to Victory for Williams vs. Arazenka Showdown

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 7, 2013

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Serena Williams of United States of America celebrates after winning  her women's singles semifinal match against Na Li of China on Day Twelve of the 2013 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 6, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for the USTA)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The women's singles bracket got its high-profile championship match in the 2013 U.S. Open, as No. 1 Serena Williams is set to face No. 2 Victoria Azarenka on Sunday. Each contender comes in with one vital key to focus on for victory.

Williams comes in looking to get her second Grand Slam championship of the year by closing out her fifth U.S. Open win. In doing so, at age 31, she'd become the oldest player to win the tournament since 1968. 

But Azarenka comes in ready to displace Williams after coming up short against her in last year's Open in a three-set thriller. The underdog is 3-12 against Williams in her career, via

Let's take a look at the biggest key for each athlete as they get ready to face off for the U.S. Open title. 


Serena Williams: Take Early Lead and Stay Motivated

The serve is unquestionably Azarenka's biggest issue right now in her game, and Williams' return skills are the best in the business. That should allow the No. 1 player to attack early.

But Azarenka has come back from a set down twice already in the U.S. Open, so if Serena opens up with her foot on the gas pedal, she'll have to keep it there to hold her opponent at bay.

With her fifth U.S. Open title looming, Williams can't afford to lose focus upon going up a set. She has to stay dialed in and motivated, using her loss last month to Azarenka in Cincinnati as motivation to put her opponent away as the match wears on. 

Serena might be in the midst of the best Grand Slam performance of her career, posting five 6-0 set victories thus far and not dropping a single set. She also owns a 72-16 advantage in games won over her combined opponents. 

The only way she'll give up this opportunity is if her mind wanders off and she loses sight of what's at stake.


Victoria Azarenka: Confidence and Resiliency

It's almost a foregone conclusion that it'll take three sets for Azarenka to pull the upset over Williams with the way the American is playing, which makes it crucial for the 24-year-old to play with an added level of confidence.

She's shown the ability to be resilient in this year's Open. Twice, she was down a set to a lower-seeded opponent before fighting back to victory. 

That, along with two wins over Serena this year, should give Azarenka plenty of reasons to be confident in her ability to beat the 31-year-old. However, if things go south early and she faces adversity, that confidence could fade quickly.

Reality could sink in sooner or later for Azarenka if she goes down early, given that Williams has knocked her out of this very tournament in each of the last two years. She'll have to drown out all of the negatives quickly. If she doesn't, Williams will waste no time putting her away.