It’s finals day at the Lindner Family Tennis Centre and tonight’s WTA final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka kicks off at around 9pm UK time. The event has been poorly attended this week but it should be an interesting contest between the top two seeds at the Western and Southern Open.
Both of my predictions proved to be correct in last night’s semi-finals, as Williams edged past a nervy Na Li and Azarenka produced another poor night of serving to sneak by Jelena Jankovic in three sets. Maybe the stayaway fans have it right, as both semi-finals were pretty poor. Li actually served for both sets against Williams, while JJ and Vika produced 23 breaks of serve between them, which just about sums up what has been a substandard event in terms of quality.
The final should be better with any luck and it’s actually quite a tricky one to call, with both players coming into this in fairly poor shape. I’ve been siding against both of the finalists in various markets throughout this tournament, but one would think that now that Williams is actually in the final that she’ll go on to land the title for the first time in her career.
Azarenka has been serving horrifically all week and produced another 11 double faults last night, winning just six of 27 points behind her second serve against someone not really known for their powerful returns. Anything like that tonight and this could be a thrashing if Williams is able to produce somewhere near her best.
Serena wasn’t exactly solid on second serve either last night, being broken five times and winning just six of her 20 second serve points, so both players need to step it up tonight.
Williams leads the head-to-head 13-2, but their recent meetings on outdoor hard courts have been close. Although Serena will probably win this there’s a decent chance that Azarenka can take a set in the process - if she can cut out the double faults.
It might not be a great spectacle if previous matches this week are any barometer, but that might make it exciting. The 2.10 about Azarenka with a 1.5-set start looks the best bet to me in what could be a real up-and-down clash. Li should have taken both sets against Williams last night, despite throwing in eight doubles herself and I’d like to think Vika can hold herself together better than the Chinese if she gets the chance.
Best bet: Back Azarenka +1.5 sets to beat Williams at 2.10