Azarenka v S Williams:
Head to heads are 6-1 to Williams. She has won their last 4 meetings.
Having seen Williams batter Sharapova it would be easy to assume that she was going to stroll to the title this week. I think a lot of her aggression in that match was fueled by a deep dislike for Shara. Some of her shots, especially in the first set were packed with anger. In the semi she came up against Hradecka who has served superbly all week. Hradecka saved 4 break points in the first set and took it into a tie break which was also close but went to Williams. However she had used all her energy supplies and didn’t win a game in the second set.
Azarenka has been a little below her best in recent weeks but still reached the final in Germany. She had even more problems than normal in that final and was easily beaten by Sharapova. This week she seems to have coped well with the dreaded blue clay. Her first 2 matches were closer than we may have expected and the first set against Li Na was poor but over all she hasn’t played badly. She will be motivated today to make up for her poor showing in her last final and also to prove that she is rightly ranked 1 in the world.
Azarenka will need to serve well today. Big serves are what troubled Williams against Hradecka. Aza also can’t really afford to be coming back from a set down against Williams. She needs to get her nose in front and stay there to subdue the American.
I’ll be starting with a lay of Williams. Lets see which bully comes out on top.
Update: Not sure how long Azarenka expects to be ranked number 1 when she can’t serve well for an entire match. The one shot that can be practiced alone. No need for a hitting partner.
Williams won 6-1, 6-3.
Federer v Berdych:
Head to heads are 10-4 to Federer. He has won both their previous matches on clay although they were in 2005 and 2006.
Federer ( I think) will take over the number 2 spot from Nadal if he wins here. If not he is very close. He played well within himself against Ferrer.
Berdych seems to like the new surface. He hasn’t lost a set all week and Del Potro, Verdasco and Monfils is an impressive list of victims.
Who wants this most? I would suggest Federer but as Raonic showed earlier in the week a big server can trouble him. Hopefully Berdych won’t be intimidated by facing Federer and will be able to make a great match out of it.
I feel Federer’s price of 1.35 feels way too low as I think we will see 3 sets. In all bar 2 of their 14 matches whoever won the opening set took the match.
I will look for a better price to back Federer. Laying him at the start is an option but I have a sneaky feeling that Berdych won’t show up in the first set. Lets hope I am wrong. Fed to win in 3.
Update: Berdych certainly showed up. Federer was broken in his very first service game. In fact he struggled with serve throughout the match. Berdych clung on to the break and even had further break points towards the end of the set.
In the second set if was Berdych who was broken early and even though Berdych broke back a few games later Federer broke at the end of the set to level the match.
In the third Federer broke serve to lead 5-3 and was serving for the match. However his problems on serve continued and Berdych broke back. At 5-6 Berdych was serving to stay in the match and went 0-40 down. He saved the 3 match points but couldn’t save a 4th.
Federer won 3-6, 7-5, 7-5.