Our lucrative and highly professional contributor, Omair, prepared an analysis of the last singles match in the women's draw at the Australian Open, the final between Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Enjoy the article and share your input in the comments!
Australian Open women's championship match will see two "ria's" facing each other, each trying to outgrunt the other. It will be one of the noisiest women's finals Australian Open has ever had, since both Maria and Victoria shriek loudly. My advice to the people intending to go and watch the match would be to take ear plugs with you or you might get your ears hurt. Ok enough of joking, let's see what we have in store for the final.
Seeing the form both players are taking into the final, it promises to be a great match. Both players have lost just two sets so far in the tournament, both losing one set in the quarterfinals and one in the semis. What is more interesting is that they both lost the same sets. Maria lost the first set in her quarterfinal against Sabine Lisicki, as did Azarenka against Radwanska. Maria lost the second set in her semifinal against Kvitova, as did Azarenka against Clijsters.
Both have not lost a match this year. Azarenka winning Sydney and carrying that momentum to the Australian Open, while Sharapova kick started her 2012 campaign at the Australian Open. Who will keep her winning streak intact in the final? Will it be Maria or Victoria?
The winner gets more than the Grand Slam trophy, the winner will get the honor of being the highest-ranked female tennis player on the planet as well. A win by Sharapova will return her to the top spot, while a win by Azarenka will mean a lot of things for her. She will become the first Belarusian ever to win a Grand Slam, the first Belarusian ever to attain the top spot, and the first player ever to grab the top spot without being world No.2 ever in her career, since the debut of rankings in 1975.
Their head-to-head is tied at 3-3. Their last encounter was won by Sharapova when Azarenka retired in Rome. The other two victories of Sharapova over Azarenka came in three sets, while Azarenka in her three wins has won in straight sets. Azarenka and Maria both enter the final in great shape and great form.
Let's see what their form so far in the tournament suggests:
Sharapova's first serve has so far been very good (considering that Sharapova's serve has been her liability since her comeback from the shoulder surgery), and so has been her winning percentage on her first and second serves. Sharapova's break point conversion rate has been very good so far, since she is one of the best returners on the tour at the moment, and if she wants to win, she will have to keep that up.
Since we have little to choose from, it will come down to two things:
1) Sharapova's serve – if it holds up for one more day, it will earn her a Grand Slam
2) Nerves – it is Azarenka's first major final. Sharapova has been here before and she knows what it takes to win. Whoever will handle her nerves better will come out on top.
I think Azarenka will come out at the top in three sets, if she continues the way she has been playing. Who do you think will come out at the top and win the first major of 2012?
Let's hope for great match and a great year. What a way to to kick start the slam season of this year, where we saw the three of top four players making it to the semis. Let's hope that they can keep this level up and going for the rest of the year.
Additional info: Check out Omair's post-match analytics of Sharapova's semifinal win over Petra Kvitova, quarterfinal win over Ekaterina Makarova, and Azarenka's defeat of Kim Clijsters in the semis, and quarterfinal victory over Agnieszka Radwanska. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)