Azarenka and Sharapova To Finals

2010 Bank of the West Classic
By Hiland Doolittle, August 1st, 2010
Maria Sharapova at Stanford Classic

Maria Sharapova at Stanford Classic

Grunts, groans and sighs aplenty will fill the Stanford air Sunday when 5’10” 8th seeded Victoria Azarenka and 6’0” 5th seeded Maria Sharapova go head to head in the finals at Stanford. In Saturday’s early match, the resurgent Azarenka spanked top seed Samantha Stosur and continued her mastery over the big serving Australian. The two have played four times and Azarenka has yet to lose a set.

Her 6-2, 6-3 thumping of Stosur highlights a nice comeback by Belarus’ top player. Victoria began a slump in February this year after her disappointing loss in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open. The powerful Azarenka fell out of the top ten and seemed to be battling herself more than her opponents.

But, on Saturday, her 21st birthday, the long power hitter’s decisive victory announced her return as one of the game’s top players. Victoria and Maria have met three times in the past and Sharapova holds a 2-1 edge. Azarenka will be playing in her tenth Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final. She won all three finals in which she appeared last year, including Brisbane, Memphis and the prestigious Miami event.

What Victoria showed on Saturday is that she is a consistent striker of the ball. When she has confidence she has the most powerful forehand on the women’s tour. Against Stosur, Azarenka made the Aussie look overmatched much of the time. She refused to let Stosur take control of the match and attacked Stosur’s vaunted serve by taking it on the rise and returning it deep into the court. Victoria is one of the few tour players that has the ability to keep Samantha on the defensive.

In the nightcap, Maria Sharapova showed that she has regained much of the form that elevated her to the tour’s top spot. A ferocious competitor, Maria turned the tables on third seed Agnieszka Radwanska by coming back from a 1-6 first set loss to emerge the 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 winner.

Sharapova now enjoys a 5-1 career record against Aggie. Maria was forced to make several adjustments against the ball hawking, spin artist. After losing her serve three of the four times she served in the first set, Maria only dropped serve once in the final two sets.

Earn Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles...

Still plagued by double faults and an inconsistent ball toss, Maria will have to serve better against Azarenka. In her quarterfinal win over Elena Dementieva, Sharapova served up 19 double faults. Maria tends to play quite a few loose points at the beginning of matches. Azarenka will make her pay for any loose play.

Renowned as the two loudest players on the tour, fans may want to wear earplugs to watch these two go at it. On Sunday, the two best and most powerful players that showed up in Stanford will be fighting for the title. It promises to be a great match, between two of the game’s biggest stars.


No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.