Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka: WTA Toronto 2011 Semifinal Preview

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Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka: WTA Toronto 2011 Semifinal Preview
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Serena Williams

Serena Williams has not played her best tennis at the Premier Mandatory event in Toronto this week as dropped sets to Jie Zheng and Lucie Safarova imply that the American still has some kinks to work on in her game.

However, the former No. 1 has played well enough to win and she is into the semifinals in Toronto, where she will face a tough opponent in Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka, the four seed in Toronto, is on absolutely fantastic form this week. She had a bye through the first round but in the three matches she has played in at the Rogers Cup, Azarenka has only lost six individual games—that's six games out of 42.

In her opener, Azarenka gave Stephanie Dubois a double bagel and neither Maria Martinez Sanchez nor Galina Voskoboeva were able to stay on court with the fourth seed.

It could be said that Azarenka's draw has been light as other seeded players in that quarter have suffered upsets however to make the semifinals of a Premier Mandatory event with only six lost games is always a head-turning accomplishment as the talent on the WTA Tour is deep, even in an upset-riddled section of the draw.

Azarenka is unlikely to handle Williams so easily and the question with the No. 4 seed is will her current momentum give her enough confidence to defeat Williams?

The former No. 1 is a demon for Azarenka as the Belarussian is just 1-4 against Williams. 

Azarenka appeared to have Williams beat the last time they played, a match from the quarters of the 2010 Australian Open. In that match Azarenka was up on Williams by a set and a break in the second set before surrendering the lead and the match in three sets.

If Azarenka had simply held serve in the late going of the second set of that match she could have won the 2010 Australian Open as Williams blazed to the title after the quarterfinal scare.

Azarenka really slumped following that loss and she did not return to her best tennis until some time afterward.

Williams could be in Azarenka's head and Saturday's match is actually a huge one for the four seed from a mental perspective. She has a chance to put some dirt on a bad memory but if she loses things could only get worse.

Their semifinal match is scheduled to be played not before 6:30 pm ET on Saturday night and although I previously stated that I thought Williams would win the tournament, based on how Azarenka has played in the last couple of days, I am going to flip-flop on this semifinal match.

I think Azarenka will be the victor and that she will win the title easily if she faces Sam Stosur in the final while Agnieszka Radwanska will be a tougher out.

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