Making her Grand Slam final debut, Victoria Azarenka will appear in the biggest match of her career tonight in the Australian Open title bout where she’ll meet former champion Maria Sharapova.
The match not only determines our first Slam titlist of the season but also the new No. 1 ranking player, with the champion replacing Caroline Wozniacki on Monday in next WTA rankings.
Azarenka and Sharapova has split thier previous six meetings, but in finals Azarenka leads 2-0 and in every match the Belarussian has won at lest one set.
“I think she’s a very tough opponent,” Azarenka said. “She’s been in the finals here, she won here, so definitely she has a lot of experience. We always had difficult matches, so really looking forward to that battle. It’s not going to be easy.”
Said Sharapova, “She’s a really, really good player, and like you said, I haven’t had great success against her in the last couple of events that we’ve played against each other. I’d really like to change that. Yeah, it will be important to tactically play right. You know, she makes you hit a lot of balls and she’s aggressive, as well.”
Azarenka is also looking to continue a string of new Grand Slam champions on the WTA, following in the footsteps of Li Na at the French Open, Petra Kvitova at Wimbledon and Sam Stosur in New York.
The 24-year-old Sharapova who was in dire straits after undergoing right shoulder surgery in 2009 is back to form reaching two of the last Major finals. And the Russian former No. 1 has fond memories of Australia capturing her last Slam title four years ago in Melbourne.
“It means so much to be back in a Grand Slam final, a stage I have been to before few years ago here,” Sharapova said Thursday. “It’s nice to get that far again after losing quite early in the last couple of years.
“Obviously it would have been nice not to have a serious injury at 21 years old, but sometimes it’s just the way things go. Good thing is that I found a way to come back.”
Sharapova has 24 career WTA titles including three at the Grand Slam level. Azarenka, a former Australian junior champion in 2005, has nine WTA titles and is appearing in her first Slam final.
The winner will also receive a record prize money purse of 2.3 million Australian dollars.
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