Doha Final: Lucie Safarova vs (wc) Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka will be seeking a third Qatar Total Open title on Saturday but standing in her way is an in form Lucie Safarova. Both Vika and Lucie have played extremely good tennis this week, two very deserved finalists in Doha. We can look forward to a very close, high quality final between these two.
After picking up back to back top 10 victories over Ekaterina Makarova and Andrea Petkovic, Lucie stormed in her first final of 2015 with a commanding 6-3 6-2 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro. Lucie dominated proceedings from start to finish, dealing with the tricky conditions admirably well.
Lucie clearly went after Carla’s forehand and her tactics certainly paid off, as she cruised to a comfortable victory. Lucie secured an early break of serve in both sets and never really looked threatened apart from midway through the opening set when Carla managed to get things back on serve at 3-4. However Lucie rebounded extremely well, winning 8 straight points to close out the opening set.
Lucie came up with some breathtaking forehand winners on the run, both cross court and down the line. Safarova finished the match with 24 winners to just 9 unforced errors, very impressive stats given the windy conditions. After a difficult start to the season, Lucie has had a wonderful couple of weeks. Lucie now has a chance to win the biggest title of her career and move agonisingly close to a spot in the top 10 for the very first time.
Victoria Azarenka extended her winning streak at the Qatar Total Open to 14 by notching up her first career victory over Venus Williams, coming from a set down to prevail 2-6 6-2 6-4. Vika was totally outplayed in the opening set, Venus blasted 13 winners past the Belarussian in a dominant opening set performance. Vika looked to be in trouble at the end of the set, being totally outplayed and hobbling around the court.
Vika managed to turn things around like a true champion, hanging in the match and waiting for her opportunity. Vika’s chance came early in the second set, obtaining a critical break of serve before running away with the set, winning five of the last six games. Vika continued her dominance in the third, powering her way to a 5-1 lead. Venus didn’t give up, fighting her way back to 4-5. Vika kept her cool, serving out the match to reach her first final since Brisbane last year.
Vika looked to be in pain for the the majority of the match, limping around the court and stretching out her legs on numerous occasions. The Belarusian adjusted well, playing much more aggressive tennis in the second and third sets. Vika finished the match with 36 winners and won 23 out 29 points at the net. Vika has beaten four quality opponents this week, clearly the best tennis the Belarusian has played for over a year.
Victoria Azarenka holds a perfect 6-0 head to head record over Lucie Safarova. Furthermore Lucie has managed to win just one set against Vika. However this will be the first meeting between the pair since Madrid in 2011. Much has changed since then, both ladies have improved significantly since then. Therefore the head to head record is somewhat irrelevant.
This promises to be a high quality match between two ladies at the top of their game. Lucie is playing the best tennis of her life at the moment, she is serving so well and is extremely confident in her groundstrokes and tactics. Whilst Vika is back to playing some of her best tennis, playing smart, aggressive tennis. The Belarusian has not been afraid to move forward this week, for the most part it has paid off.
Azarenka has much more experience on the big stage, the Belarusian thrives under the spotlight. Lucie has struggled with nerves in the past, especially in moments such as these. However Lucie seems to have put all of that behind her, she seems to be very confident in her game at the moment. This is a tough match to call, it really could go either way.
There is a bit of question mark surrounding Vika’s fitness, she was hobbling around court throughout her match with Venus. If she doesn’t recover well and isn’t 100 percent ready she will struggle against a red-hot Safarova.
I’m going to side with Lucie, this is her moment, she has been playing amazing tennis this week. If Lucie maintains a similar level she has a really good chance to claim the biggest title of her career.
Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Victoria Azarenka in 3 sets