The women’s final is all set for Saturday night in Australia after two lopsided semi-finals saw Victoria Azarenka and Li Na reach the first showcase of 2013. Li produced a superb performance to stun an error-prone Maria Sharapova, 6-2 6-2. At the start of the tournament, I predicted Li to make the final, but I did go for Sharapova in yesterday’s predictions. Li will take on Azarenka who beat Serena-slayer, Sloane Stephens in a controversial 6-1 6-4 win. The match will be remembered for Azarenka’s medical time-out (MTO) at 6-1 5-4 after she had wasted five match points.
In her on-court interview, she said that she was “overwhelmed” and implied that she had taken a MTO because of the stress of choking away a string of match points. She tried to clear things up in her post-match interview by saying that she did not understand the question and that the MTO was because she could not breathe because of a back/rib injury. It sounds to me like she had a bit of a panic attack, which is definitely nothing be laughed at, but is it worthy of a near ten minute MTO? Still, I thought the timing and length of it was very disrespectful to Sloane, but she‘s not the first and won’t be the last player to take a MTO for seemingly tactical reasons...
Azarenka trying to clear up her MTO
Anyway I digress from the final… Azarenka leads the head-to-head with Li by 5 wins to 4, but most significantly is that she has won 4 of her last 5 matches with Li and all 3 of their 2012 encounters. They last met at the WTA year-ending-championships where Azarenka edged a scratchy two setter. To be honest, all their matches have been rather patchy, but this should be a competitive match and the head-to-head’s can be put to one side because of Li’s form at the start of 2013.
The bookmakers are struggling to split these two with Azarenka the slight favourite. Head-to-head and rankings would give Vika the edge, but I am going for Li to win the whole caboodle. She has played extremely well this tournament and the way she finished off Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova cannot be ignored. Like Sharapova, Azarenka has not been fully tested by the calibre of her opponents with the number 29 seed, Sloane Stephens her only seeded opponent (a tip of the cap though to Svetlana Kuznetsova). Li has been progressively improving through the rounds and looks to be mentally ready to claim her second Grand Slam. She would be a very popular winner too and personally, I hope she wins…
|Prediction – Li to beat Azarenka in 3 sets
My predictions for the womens 2013 Australian Open… generally happy overall, could have been much worse!