Women's No. 1 seed Serena Williams and No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka will face off for the 2013 U.S. Open Championship on Sunday. It's a hotly-anticipated matchup on the tournament's penultimate day -- the men's singles will conclude with the finals on Monday -- though one of them is a huge favorite over the other.
That would be Williams, who is playing out of her mind at this point. She dispatched No. 5 seed Na Li in a relatively easy match in the semifinals, winning 6-0, 6-3, and totally obliterated her quarterfinal opponent, No. 18 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-0, 6-0. Williams has her sights set on her fifth U.S. Open title and her 17th major championship.
Her opponent has been playing well throughout the tournament, too. Azarenka made short work of her quarterfinal opponent, unseeded Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-3. Unfortunately for her, she struggled mightily in her semifinal win over Flavia Pennetta. Fortunately, Pennetta struggled a lot more, leading to a 6-4, 6-2 Azarenka victory.
The problem with that match is Azarenka played such a sloppy match. She broke Pennetta on eight of her nine service games, but she also won the point less than half the time on her first serve. She was broken three times in that set and committed 18 unforced errors. Had she been playing against a better opponent, she surely wouldn't be in the finals Sunday.
Williams is exactly the kind of opponent you can't count on to screw up eight of nine service games. If Azarenka shows up to this match looking at all like she looked in the semifinals, it will be a blowout of epic proportions. Williams is playing too well to lose to that iteration of Azarenka.
That said, if Azarenka cleans up her game, she has a solid chance at winning. She has just a 3-12 record against Williams, but she's actually won two of the last three meetings, including the last two on hard courts. Both of those matches went three sets, and in both of them, Williams was clearly frustrated. That's the kind of game Azarenka plays well: the mental game.
Azarenka has two matches in which she went to three sets and the poor showing in the semifinals that makes it hard to pick her to win this. Williams is just too powerful and too good these days. It probably won't be a blowout, but it will almost certainly go to three sets if Azarenka is to have any chance. Still, smart money is on Williams winning it all once again and wrapping up another very stellar season.
The matchup begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS, following the men's doubles final on ESPN2, which begins at 12:30 p.m.