There haven’t been many recently, but one player who has given Serena Williams trouble is Victoria Azarenka, and tomorrow the two Hall of Famers will meet in the Indian Wells final.
Serena, who missed 14 years of the event due to a boycott, return to the final for the first time since her 2001 triumph overcame an early deficit to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6(1).
After a slow start – she was down 4-2 early – Serena got into gear and at one stretch had won 12 of 13 points before Radwanska stopped the rot.
“[I] definitely felt like I wanted to go out there, and towards the end just really try my best to close it out,” said Williams. “Even if it didn’t work out, I at least wanted to try even harder.”
Radwanska falls to 0-10 against Serena winning just one set of 21 they’ve played. But she returns to No. 2 on Monday.
“I think it was a really good match. I think we both played very well,” said Radwanska.
In the second semifinal, 2012 Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka ended the run of Karolina Pliskova 7-6(1), 1-6, 6-2.
“It’s been a great week, I felt I improved so much. I’ve been working hard and it’s good to see that all that work is paying off,” said Azarenka who has battled so many injuries the last few years. “I tried to apply what I’m working on – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – but it has put me in a position to play against the best players and these are the most priceless moments for me.”
Serena leads Azarenka 17-3 winning their last five. But Azarenka took a set off the World No. 1 three times last year in losses at Madrid, the French and at Wimbledon.
“For me it’s all fun. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, it’s tennis and you’re not always going to be on the up. You have to play good and stay calm – it’s important what you do when you’re down, too. I think through the experience you learn to understand that better.”
Azarenka last beat Serena in a thrilling 2013 Cincinnati final. This will be their first meeting at Indian Wells where Serena has a 22-1 record.
If Azarenka wins she’ll return to the Top 10.
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