She has “future Major winner” written all over her, and now Victoria Azarenka goes into the Australian Open riding the high of a title win at the 2012 Apia International Sydney, defeating Li Na in a see-saw battle, 6-2 1-6 6-3. Vika was able to thwart Li Na’s attempt to attack her up the middle of the court, similar to how the Chinese star unhinged Petra Kvitova’s game in the semifinals. It didn’t work this time as Vika spinted out to a 6-2 first set win. Li Na switched tactics, going for more angles and attacking Vika’s backhand wide to storm back and take the second set 6-1. But Azarenka would not be denied on this day, taking the final set 6-3 to deny Li back to back titles in Sydney.
What does this mean about Vika’s chances in Melbourne at the year’s first Major? Well, I think nothing changes, really. She has been a threat to win her first Slam for some time now and remains one of the top contenders. However, two weeks is a long time in tennis terms and all of the top players, save for the injured Andrea Petkovic, will be at the Australian Open. So Vika is one of the favorites, but I can’t say she is THE favorite. With so many question marks about the health of Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, I’m not certain there is one clear favorite. I am certain about one thing, however. I would not be surprised if Vika is holding the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup at the end of play in Melbourne.