The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open final will feature powerful, competitive and loud players – Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. The two are not underdogs, but it can't be said that they were favored to be the last women standing.
Both have already been at this stage of the Miami tournament, but only Azarenka managed to go a step further and win the title against Serena Williams in 2009. If Sharapova wins this time, it will be a huge thing, but not because it will be her first win in the final of Miami in three attempts, rather because the Premier-level title will be a great milestone in her post shoulder injury career.
If Azarenka’s record against Russian players is of any relevance, let's see the WTA Tour stats:
– Azarenka has a 46.3% win percentage against Russians (25-29)
– Azarenka is on a four match winning streak against Russians, the best of her career
As for Azarenka's record against Sharapova in particular, they are tied at 2-2, although it was Azarenka who won their last match, in Stanford final last year. Who will win the title is not easily predictable, but the final promises big fight and powerful game.
The interesting fact is that average rank of Sharapova's Miami opponents was 76, while Azarenka's was significantly higher, 24.
Seed No.16 Maria Sharapova’s road to the final:
R64: def. [WC] Petra Martic 6-3 6-2
R32: def. [WC] Sabine Lisicki 6-2 6-0
R16: def. No. 5 Samantha Stosur 6-4 6-1
QF: def. No. 28 Alexandra Dulgheru 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(5
SF: def. No. 23 Andrea Petkovic 3-6 6-0 6-2
Total games: 106
Sets won/lost: 10-2
Total time on court: 9h 04
Average time on court: 1h 49
Average rank of opponent: 76
Seed No.8 Victoria Azarenka’s road to the final:
R64: def. [Q] Lucie Hradecka 7-5 4-6 6-0
R32: def. No. 25 Dominika Cibulkova 3-6 6-3 6-4
R16: def. No. 21 Anastasia Palyuchenkova 3-6 6-1 6-4
QF: def. No. 2 Kim Clijsters 6-3 6-3
SF: def. No. 3 Vera Zvonareva 6-0 6-3
Total games: 115
Sets won/lost: 10-3
Total time on court: 9h 29
Average time on court: 1h 54
Average rank of opponent: 24
Ranking projections say that Sharapova will climb to No.9, from her current No.13, while Azarenka is expected to rise from No.8 to No.6 if she wins (matching her career-high) and to No.7 if she loses the Sony Ericsson Open final. (stats via On the Baseline, photos: sr_cranks)