LUCIE’S IN THE FINAL! WOOOOOOOO… And back to planet Earth. Lucie Safarova reached her first WTA final since Quebec City in 2013 with another superb display to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in the semi-finals, 6-3 6-2. Safarova has been in terrific form this week and picked up right where she left off from in her quarter-final win against Andrea Petkovic. It’s such a joy to see Lucie playing like this. When she’s feeling confident and has belief in what she is doing, Lucie can be llethal.
In the second of the semi-finals, Victoria Azarenka earnt her first win over Venus Williams in a superb match. Azarenka came from a set down and held off a surging Venus to prevail, 2-6 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 18 minutes. Venus was imperious in the first set and in complete contrast to the match she played just a few days ago against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. Venus was extremely sharp and played with such intensity as Vika’s serve, particularly the second serve, let her down in the first set.
Azarenka looked to be struggling with a leg injury, which she was stretching out at the end of the first set. She didn’t back off though and adapted well as she became more aggressive on the return and made more net approaches. What was so great about this match is that it was Vika who found a way back into the match by playing awesome tennis as opposed to Venus’s level dropping off significantly. Vika won nine games in a row to win the second set and go up 4-0 in the decider. Vika has looked so assured at the net in many of her matches this year and she seems to be implementing this tactic much more. She won 20 of 23 points at the net in the last two sets. Her backhand slice is also working well; I loveeedddd the point she played to save a game point at 2-0* up in the decider when she she played the backhand slice deep into the corner before unleashing a backhand winner. Venus threatened a comeback as she closed the gap from 1-5 to 4-5, but Vika stood tall with some solid serving in the final game to secure her best win of the year so far.
Vika had lost quite a few tight three setters in the last year, but this felt like a statement win, particularly as she had never beaten Venus before. The final against Lucie promises to be a fascinating encounter. Vika leads the head-to-head 6-0 (EEK) with all their matches taking place between 2007 and 2011. Azarenka won five of those in straight sets, but Lucie did get a set in their last encounter in Madrid in 2011. Vika won that match, 6-3 3-6 6-2.
I’m really finding this a tough one to call, mainly because of my strong allegiance to Lucie. Both players have been excellent this week and I honestly believe it will be a high quality final. Safarova is showing more belief than I’ve ever seen from her on a tennis court and I think the doubles win in Melbourne has really spurred her on. Both players have secured four top 30 wins this week. You all KNOW I’ll be rooting for Lucie and this is such a huge achievement to reach a Premier final, her first since Charleston in 2012. However, I have to be honest with my prediction and say that I think Vika will *just* edge it. I hope i’m wrong. I really do! Come on Lucie prove me wrong!! 😀
Prediction: Azarenka d. Safarova in 3 tight sets