Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka, Indian Wells R2 Preview

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?? (10) Serena Williams vs. ?? Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster showdown from the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night sees Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka go head-to-head for the first time in 2 years. This will be the first meeting between Williams and Azarenka since both became mothers, a special occasion between two great rivals of the modern era.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action during the first round at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Williams has had a typically limited schedule in 2019. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has only played the one tour level event in 2019 where she reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. Serena’s Australian Open campaign ended unceremoniously when she squandered a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Karolina Pliskova, it will be interesting to see what type of level Williams can produce here given she has not played a competitive match for well over a month.

Azarenka has had a much busier schedule than Williams but has generally struggled to find her top level. The recent signs have been better for the two-time former Indian Wells champion, Azarenka arrived in the Californian desert fresh from a quarter-final showing in Acapulco and started her BNP Paribas Open campaign in style. Azarenka breezed through her opening round clash in Indian Wells, a commanding 6-2 6-3 victory over Vera Lapko to set up a showdown with Williams.

Williams holds a 17-4 head-to-head record over Azarenka, however their rivalry has been much, much more competitive than those numbers suggest. Azarenka frequently pushed Williams to her limits but often fell short in 3 sets. 4 of Serena’s last 5 wins over Azarenka required a third set. The most recent match between the pair took place in the 2016 Indian Wells final, Azarenka won that match 6-4 6-4.

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