“I’m there to win the match, not to end somebody’s streaks and not to stop somebody from doing something. I’m just focused on myself, and that’s how I always am. I would like to win every time we meet. It doesn’t really matter where it is.”—Victoria Azarenka
"You can't stop what's coming." I think of that stirring line from the excellent film No Country for Old Men when I think of the impending Victoria Azarenka–Serena Williams match, a quasi-seismic semifinal encounter between two queens of the sport at the Brisbane event, a prelude to the Australian Open. Now is the time for each woman to stake her claim or make an early statement, not just ahead of the Aussie Slam but about the forthcoming season on the whole.
This present situation obviously isn't as dire or severe as the (fictional) account in No Country—and few things are—but it's laden with drama and tension, skilled arsenals and striking personalities. Here are highlights from their last Grand Slam bout, the three-set women's singles final at the U.S. Open on Sept. 9, 2012:
Of course, Serena leads in this ongoing duel with an astounding 11-1 record. Even so, she was pressed and had to run around a lot against Sloane Stephens in the previous round, a match in which Serena obviously felt the figurative "heat" of a challenge. If Azarenka is to be believed when she says, “Every time I [played her] I learned something", this latest run-in could get good, really good.
Who do you think will emerge the victor?
—Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9)