It's championship weekend at the 2020 U.S. Open, the tennis season's second Grand Slam tournament, at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.
The women's final Saturday will feature a pair of two-time major champions. Fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka takes on unseeded Victoria Azarenka, who's showcased a return to form over the past month.
Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, two of the bracket's top-five seeds, will each be seeking their first major title in the men's final Sunday.
When: Saturday, Sept. 12 at 4 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
When: Sunday, Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Women: Naomi Osaka vs. Victoria Azarenka
Osaka and Azarenka were scheduled to face off in the final of the Western & Southern Open two weeks ago in the final warm-up event before the U.S. Open. Osaka was forced to withdraw with a hamstring injury, handing the title to Azarenka, but that event proved a strong predictor for the U.S. Open.
Azarenka dominated their first head-to-head meeting in the 2016 Australian Open (6-1, 6-1) but Osaka bounced back to win the last two matchups in the 2018 Italian Open (6-0, 6-3) and the 2019 French Open (4-6, 7-5, 6-3).
The key question Saturday will likely be which version of Azarenka shows up.
She struggled mightily during the first set against Serena Williams in the semifinals, racking up 10 unforced errors and four double faults. She stormed back over the next two sets with 21 winners and just seven unforced errors to eliminate the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.
If the 31-year-old Belarus native plays like she did in the middle set of that match (12 winners, one error), she's definitely capable of pulling off the upset.
That said, Osaka has been terrific since the WTA Tour restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic with a 10-0 record (not counting the walkover loss to Azarenka). She was efficient in her semifinal win over Jennifer Brady with 35 winners and nine aces against 17 unforced errors.
The 2018 U.S. Open champion is the pick to add another trophy to her collection in a hard-fought final that goes the distance.
Prediction: Osaka in three sets
Men: Dominic Thiem vs. Alexander Zverev
Zverev looked completely lost for the first two sets of his semifinal against Pablo Carreno Busta. Whether it was the nerves from playing in his first major semifinal, the craftiness of his Spanish opponent or a combination of factors, it appeared he was heading for a massively disappointing exit.
The 23-year-old German rising star came alive in the third set, though. He won 83 percent of the points on his first serve while racking up 11 winners and four aces to completely turn the match around before going on to win in five sets.
He won't have nearly as much margin for error against Thiem, however, so it will be important for him to get off to a much better start Sunday.
Thiem, 27, is making the fourth Grand Slam final appearance of his career. He lost to Roland-Garros legend Rafael Nadal in the French Open each of the past two years and came up short against Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open championship match earlier this year.
The Austrian wasn't terribly efficient in his straight-sets triumph over third-seeded Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals. He got just 59 percent of his first serves in and finished with more errors than winners (33-22) and more double faults than aces (3-2).
He overcame those struggles by winning 55 percent of the points on his second serve and taking care of business at the net (22 of 29 points won). The latter area is also a strength for Zverev, who converted 74 percent of his net approaches against Carreno Busta, which makes that a key stat to watch Sunday.
Thiem, who holds a 7-2 edge in their prior meetings, has more experience on the championship stage and faced a far more difficult road to the final, yet he still managed to only drop a single set in the process. He should find a way to finally claim his long-awaited first major title.
Prediction: Thiem in four sets