2020 US OPEN – SF #2 preview + prediction: ??
?? (3) Serena Williams vs. ?? Victoria Azarenka
Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka will renew hostilities when they go head-to-head
for the 23rd time with a spot in the 2020 US Open championship match up for grabs. Williams and Azarenka have played out some epic matches at Flushing Meadows in the past, including a pair of memorable finals in 2012 and 2013, this has the makings for another fiercely contested battle.
Serena Williams is just 2 wins away from finally lifting Grand Slam title number 24 after a 3 and a half year wait. Williams wants this badly, she has for a while, she usually gets what she wants. It hasn’t been an easy pathway for Williams to get to this stage, Williams started the event with a pair of straight set wins over Kristie Ahn and Margarita Gasparyan. The 6-time former champion has required 3 consecutive 3 set wins to advance to the semi-finals, a 2-6 6-2 6-2 win over the 26th seeded Sloane Stephens, a 6-3 6-7 6-3 win over the 15th seeded Maria Sakkari and a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win over Tsvetana Pironkova.
Victoria Azarenka is on a 10 match winning streak having won the Western & Southern Open right before the US Open commenced. Azarenka’s run at Flushing Meadows has been far more straightforward, the unseeded Azarenka cruised through the first week with straight set wins over Barbara Haas, the 5th seeded Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek. Azarenka’s toughest challenge came in the fourth round where she just edged past the 20th seeded Karolina Muchova 5-7 6-1 6-4. Azarenka stormed into her first major semi-final since the 2013 US Open with a 6-1 6-0 thrashing of the 15th seeded Elise Mertens.
Williams holds a dominant 18-4 head-to-head record over Azarenka. Williams has won all 10 of their previous meetings at a Grand Slam and all 3 of their previous meetings at the US Open. The most recent match between the pair took place at Indian Wells last year, Williams won 7-5 6-3.
There is no doubt that Azarenka has been able to push Williams like few have, however Williams has still dominated Azarenka, there have been many epic matches between the two, but Williams almost always wins, especially in critical matches. The reason? Azarenka’s weak serve get the treatment under pressure. Serena’s consistently strong and aggressive returns of serve have always been Azarenka’s undoing in this match-up. Azarenka’s serve is as vulnerable as ever, Williams still has the power, this should mean a Williams victory. Williams has been fighting for a major title for a few years without success, I don’t see her stumbling here against an opponent she knows how to handle.