Nick's Picks will be breaking down the Sony Ericsson Open everyday! Follow along for predictions, picks, and insight into the tournament on the blog and on TennisWeek.com.
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs. Serena Williams (USA)
Azarenka needed three sets to take down Svetlana Kuznetsova and reach the seventh and biggest final of her young career. She has already won two titles in 2009 - Brisbane and Memphis - but this one demonstrate that she is ready to compete with the best week in and week out. She came into the tournament ranked a career high of #10 in the world, and that is sure to rise after now!
Serena evened the overall series with her sister Venus at 10-10 by beating her 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The win also secured her stay at the #1 ranking in the world which she would have lost to Dinara Safina if she would have fallen in the semis. The victory also puts her one step closer to winning her third consecutive Sony Ericsson Open crown and the sixth of her career!
Serena is 2-0 against Azarenka and beat her earlier this year at the Australian Open. If you remember that match though, Azarenka had won the opening set and then the heat started to get to her and she had to retire in the second set. She had been sick earlier in the day and when you combined that with the Australian sun you get a bad mixture!
Both of these girls have thundering groundstrokes, both have top-notch serves, and both are excellent movers. Serena obviously has much more experience on the grand stage, and that is a large advantage. It is going to be interesting to see how Azarenka handles the pressure of what is the biggest match of her career.
I don't think Serena would underestimate Azarenka whatsoever, but she cannot play any loose games at all. From the first ball she needs to be all business all the time otherwise Azarenka will have a very good chance of winning this match. I have to give the edge to Serena because of her track record, but this has the potential to be a close match!
Nick's Pick - S. Williams in 3 sets
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