Our contributing blogger Omair dug into the world of Olympic stats and brought us the previews of the semifinals. Let’s see the numbers behind the 2012 Olympic performances of our semifinalists for an insight into who has a greater chance to win. First up on the menu: Victoria Azarenka vs. Serena Williams.
Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams will meet for the 10th time in their careers, most recent meeting coming on the very same lawns of Wimbledon just a few weeks ago, at the same stage of the tournament (in that match, Serena hit 24 aces, thus winning an entire set only with aces!). It was Serena who walked off victorious. Will it be different this time?
Azarenka fought hard to fend off the Angelique Kerber challenge in the quarterfinals, 6-4 7-5. Serena joined Azarenka shortly afterwards, thumping Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, 6-0 6-3. This will be a rematch of their Wimbledon semifinal, where Azarenka put up a brave show, but lost in straight sets.
Williams has yet to lose a set in the 2012 London Olympics, while Azarenka has already lost a set in her first-round victory.
Let’s have a look at Azarenka’s and Serena’s performance so far in the tournament.
The stats show us that there will be a few deciding factors, the player managing those things better will walk off smiling, earning a place in the gold medal match.
First serve and points won on first serve: Serena is behind Azarenka in the first serve department by 4%, but she has made it up by winning 10% more points on first serve. In order to beat Serena, Azarenka will have to serve lights out and keep her double faults under control, since she has been losing her serve once via double faults on average.
Second serve winning percentage: Azarenka has won only 51% points behind her second serve, whereas Serena has won 12% more than Azarenka. Azarenka will have to be very careful knowing that Serena has won 58% points while returning the second serves of her opponents so far in the tournament.
Return of serve: Azarenka is one of the best returners on the Tour at the moment, but so is Serena. Azarenka will have to find a way to neutralize Serena’s serve. Serena has won 50% points when returning first serves, 15% more than Azarenka, whereas Azarenka has won 5% more points than Serena when returning second serves of her opponents.
Serena has been playing way cleaner than Azarenka. Serena’s winners-to-unforced errors differential is +14, whereas Azarenka stands at only +3.
It will all come down to Azarenka’s serve and Serena’s nerves. If Azarenka handles her serve and pushes Serena, she might stand a chance, however, given the recent form, everything goes in Serena’s favor, unless she has an off day.
Pick: Serena Williams in straight sets. What do you think?