For three straight rounds, I have picked against Victoria Azarenka. I picked her to lose to Kim Clijsters. I picked her to lose to Vera Zvonareva. I picked her to lose to destiny and Maria Sharapova. So how did that work out? 🙂 On Saturday, Vika easily defeated Sharapova to win her second Sony Ericsson Open. Vika’s victory marked her second SEO title in three years. For a player who was a couple of games away from losing to Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets earlier in the tournament, Azarenka was very impressive taking her game to another level as the tournament went on.
Vika jumped on Maria early, dominating the powerful Russian off the ground. Azarenka was equally effective attacking Maria’s service game, giving herself 8 break chances in the first set, converting 4. To be fair, despite the score Sharapova should take something away from this loss. Maria fell behind 1-6 0-4. At that point it looked like a 1 and 0 or 1 and 1 type blowout win for Vika. But Maria showed some variety in her game, coming to net selectively and mixing spins and drop shots along with her trademark groundies. She managed to get back on serve 4-5 with a chance to even things up. But Vika broke Maria’s serve to end the comeback and close out the match. With Maria, it’s all about how she serves. It’s the one shot in tennis that is in your own hands and Maria has a great one when it’s working. But the mechanics of her serve, particularly the high ball toss, make everything have to be perfect to be effective. Maria bounced serves a foot short of the net and gave away points on 6 double faults. 57% first serve percentage, which is what Maria had for the match, is simply not good enough against the best players, unless they are having an off day. Vika was having anything but an off day.
Singles – Final
(8) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. (16) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 61 64
Congratulations Victoria for a great win and a great tournament.