Semifinals are set at the Australian Open and the first one on schedule is Victoria Azarenka vs. Kim Clijsters. Our favorite stats analyst, Omair, was so grateful to provide us with his previews of both the semifinal encounters. Let's start with the Azarenka vs. Clijsters one.
Azarenka comes into this match knowing that she is one of the two players who have beaten Clijsters twice since she came out of retirement, the other player being Vera Zvonareva, if I am not wrong. Azarenka comes into this match knowing that she won her last match against Clijsters, in straight sets. She comes into this match knowing that the top spot is up for grabs and she will have a huge chance if she stops Clijsters – after all there will be no better way to justify her top spot (if she attains it) than by beating Clijsters in the semis, and then either Maria Sharapova or Petra Kvitova in the finals.
Clijsters comes into this match knowing that this is the last Australian Open of her career, and she intends to go out in style which she showed in her match against Li Na and then against Caroline Wozniacki.
Both Clijsters and Azarenka are fit, both are moving well, there is little to choose between them, but Clijsters no doubt has a greater experience of playing at big stages and she definitely knows how to control her emotions and keep herself calm, but Azarenka has also shown that she can stay calm and cool in the pressure moments. However, Clijsters has been here before and she definitely knows what it takes to reach the final, and she will give it her best, but so will Azarenka.
Kim had problem in closing out the match against Wozniacki when she was serving at 5-3 for the match, as Wozniacki broke back to take the set to tie-break, but from then on it was all Kim. However, Kim will try not to let those concentration lapses hinder her in her match against Azarenka.
Kim leads the head-to-head 4-2. They met twice last year, in Sydney it was Clijsters who came out on top, but Azarenka got her revenge at Miami.
Let's see what their performance so far at the Australian Open tells us:
When we look at the stats there is not much that separates the two. Where Clijsters might want to improve will be the points she wins on her second serve. Azarenka enters the match as the cleaner player, but there is not much that separates them at the moment. Both are on fire, where Azarenka is bidding to make her first Grand Slam final appearance, Clijsters is bidding to walk away from the last Australian Open of her career with the winner's trophy in her hand.
It will all come down to who can handle her nerves better and who can play the bigger points better. I have a feeling that Clijsters will win this in three sets. Who are you rooting for? (photos: © Neal Trousdale)