2013 Australian Open: Women’s singles final preview

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    The 2013 Australian Open women’s final will see Victoria Azarenka trying to defend her title, while Li Na attempts to win her first Australian Open after falling short in 2011.

    Both players are 1-1 in Grand Slam finals, but only one can win her second Grand Slam singles title.

    Victoria Azarenka hasn’t been forced to raise a sweat in any of her six matches so far this tournament, however she was pushed to three sets by Jamie Hampton and also had her work cut out by Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals.

    In the semi-finals, Azarenka required six match points to finally close out the giant killer, Sloane Stephens, who had defeated Serena Williams in the final eight stage.

    Those factors, as well as playing the second semi-final in 35 degree heat, could work against Azarenka if she falls behind in the first stages of Saturday night’s final.

    Li Na has had a much easier run, not dropping a set along the way to the final. She won her first four matches quite easily, before her first genuine test came in the form of Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, who hadn’t dropped a set during a 13-match winning streak to start the season.

    Li used her experience to defeat the Pole and stop her hot start to the year. Then she easily dispatched Maria Sharapova, who had dropped just nine games in her first five matches, in the semi-finals, winning 6-2, 6-2. This also ended Sharapova’s hot start to the season, in which she won five consecutive matches without dropping a set.

    For Victoria Azarenka, retaining her Australian Open title would underline her current status as the world’s best player. She will keep her top ranking regardless of what happens on Saturday night, as Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams were beaten in the semi-finals and quarter-finals respectively.

    However, she will be risking 800 rankings points, so if she loses, Sharapova and Williams will have a chance to either eat into Azarenka’s lead or become World No. 1 themselves throughout the next month.

    A win would also see Azarenka become the third woman since 2000 to successfully defend her title, after Jennifer Capriati (2001-2002) and Serena Williams (2009-2010).

    For Li Na, it’s about redemption. You may remember in the fourth round last year she held four match points in the second set tiebreak of her match against Kim Clijsters, only to see them all slip away.

    This led to her losing the match and she subsequently left the press conference in tears.

    Perhaps this is the motivation behind her run to the final this year. She insists she has unfinished business in Australia and if she can capture the title this Saturday night it’ll complete one of the great redemption stories in women’s tennis.

    This will be the tenth meeting between the pair, but only their third at Grand Slam level.

    Azarenka leads 5-4 overall, but Li Na has won their two Grand Slam meetings, at the 2011 Australian and French Opens; on both occasions, she went on to reach the final, winning in the latter.

    They are tied 1-all in finals, both of which have been played in Australia, with Li winning the 2008 Mondial Australian Hardcourts (now known as the Brisbane International) and Azarenka winning in Sydney last year.

    What’s also interesting is that Carlos Rodriguez will be coaching his fourth Australian Open final. He previously coached Justine Henin to the title matches in 2004, 2006 and 2010, being successful in the first.

    Now he has a chance to win Li Na her second Grand Slam title, while for him it would be his eighth Grand Slam title coached (having coached Henin to all seven of her Grand Slam titles).

    Rodriguez took the reins of Li Na following last year’s failed Olympic campaign. Li immediately rediscovered her best form, reaching the finals in Montreal (losing to Petra Kvitova) and Cincinnati (defeating Angelique Kerber).

    She was also able to remain in the Top 10 for the rest of the year and earn a place at the WTA year-end championships in Istanbul. She may have only won one match, but she also challenged Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka before ultimately succumbing to her opponents’ experience.

    Li has had an impressive start to the season, taking the title in Shenzhen and then reaching the semi-finals in Sydney, succumbing to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwanska.

    If she can take the title in Australia, she will prove her doubters wrong and that age is definitely no barrier. We saw Serena Williams win the US Open last year and turn 31 just two weeks later. Li Na will also be 31 next month, so perhaps she can also draw on what Williams was able to do in New York last year.

    Azarenka has also had a hot start to the season, though she had to withdraw from her Brisbane semi-final against Serena Williams due to a toe infection. But this didn’t seem to affect Azarenka, whose undefeated streak has now stretched to eight leading into Saturday’s decider.

    By winning the Australian Open again, Azarenka can also hit back at the critics who said if it wasn’t for Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals, Azarenka wouldn’t be where she is right now and she would have lost her No. 1 ranking to Serena.

    Come Saturday night Victoria Azarenka will become a dual Australian Open champion or or Li Na a dual Grand Slam champion. What’s guaranteed is that there will be a two-time Grand Slam champion.

    It’s history in the making. But who will it be?

    I’m tipping Azarenka in three tight sets.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • January 25th 2013 @ 4:22am
      Bobserver said | January 25th 2013 @ 4:22am | ! Report

      The only person that would have provided any sort of competition for the improved, on-form Li Na would have been a fit Serena Williams. As it is, Li Na is going to be the oldest AO winner in a long time by beating a somewhat ‘flaky’ Victoria Azarenka.

      • January 26th 2013 @ 1:49am
        Charles Hazel said | January 26th 2013 @ 1:49am | ! Report

        I could not agree more.

        I would also like to add that Azarenka’s unsportsman like behavior in asking for the Doctor when she realized that the match was getting

        away from her is a disgrace and should not be toleraded in today’s tennis world.

        justine Hennin was also unsportsman like in her match with Serena in the French Open and was talked about for a long time. I feel the same treatment should be handed down to Azarenka for her behavior. sloane is young and will improve.

    • January 25th 2013 @ 4:34am
      Johnno said | January 25th 2013 @ 4:34am | ! Report

      Good luck to both players, I really felt for Sammy Sloane. Both Azarenka and Li Na, are charismatic personalities, and it’s going to be a good grand slam final. Some fascinating stats here. Azeranka just leads 5-4 in head to head meetings, but in the 2 grand slam meetings when it counts the most Li Na , has won both.

      Li Na I am tipping in an epic 3 set final. Good luck to both ladies, it has been an awesome OZ open in the women’s draw.
      A good OZ open all round for both the mean and the women. Looking forwad too a weekend of entertaining tennis finals.

      • January 25th 2013 @ 11:13pm
        bolt1493 said | January 25th 2013 @ 11:13pm | ! Report

        The women’s has been pretty boring (as usual) not many good matches

    • January 25th 2013 @ 10:02am
      Mango Jack said | January 25th 2013 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      Great line by Richard Hinds in today’s SMH. Regarding the exhorbidant ticket prices for the women’s final, and the iritating grunting fans have to put up with, he muses : “why pay for a sensory experience that you can get for nothing by standing outside an open brothel window”

      • Roar Rookie

        January 25th 2013 @ 3:48pm
        Martyn50 said | January 25th 2013 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

        $229 for an Adult ticket that may finish at 6-3 , 6-2 in 58mins.

    • Roar Guru

      January 25th 2013 @ 10:34am
      Dinny Navaratnam said | January 25th 2013 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      It should be a high quality final. Li was in brilliant form against Sharapova and plays well in Australia, but Azarenka has been one of the few women to be legitimately ranked number one in recent history. Can’t see it not going to three sets. It will be interesting to see how Azarenka deals with being called a borderline cheat. The crowd will definitely be pro-Li.

      • Roar Guru

        January 25th 2013 @ 11:56am
        mastermind5991 said | January 25th 2013 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        I agree with you there, the crowd may be behind “Aussie Li”, having traditionally followed Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic in the past.

        What’s also interesting is that Li Na can win her second Grand Slam title by defeating the defending champion. She was able to beat Francesca Schiavone in the final of Roland Garros in 2011, where Schiavone was the champion the previous year. Could history repeat itself?

        Li Na was impressive in downing Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova, and I can’t see her not taking a Top Four scalp in the final. But she will have to be on her game from the get-go.

        Yes, Azarenka deserves her top ranking, but she will be risking 800 points in the final. If she loses, Serena Williams will become World No. 1. Sharapova has already dropped to World No. 3, whilst Li is almost certainly guaranteed to at least overtake Angelique Kerber, who lost in the fourth round.

    • January 25th 2013 @ 11:44am
      Cal said | January 25th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      Since the screaming started I have never watched a women’s match.

      The women’s game is a disgrace and an insult to women. Most of this current bunch have no class and limited ability.

      The officials should have put a stop to this nonsense years ago. The spectators shoud boycott games involving screamers/cheats that would force the hopeless organizers to take action.

      They do not deserve the same money as the men…… They did at one time but not now.

      I hope the player who doesn’t cheat wins.

      • Roar Guru

        January 25th 2013 @ 3:41pm
        mastermind5991 said | January 25th 2013 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

        You may remember in 2008 Ana Ivanovic was accused of gamesmanship in the semi-final against Daniela Hantuchova. Ivanovic was trailing 0-6, 0-2 but came back to win 0-6, 6-3, 6-4. Hantuchova accused Ivanovic of shuffling her feet prior to serving, but Ivanovic said at the time: “Any possible noise was because of the surface” or something among those lines.

        As it turned out, Ivanovic lost the final to Maria Sharapova, but still had the crowd behind her. I wonder what kind of attitude the crowd will show towards Victoria Azarenka tomorrow. Will be interesting.

    • January 25th 2013 @ 2:56pm
      Pookie said | January 25th 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      I am Li Na all the way on this match! She has courage and gusto! The only other player with as much heart in the game is Serena Williams.

      I agree, the grunting is very distracting in women’s tennis. I can see a grunt on a very hard shot once and a while but every shot is the side of much too much!

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