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Why They'll Win, Why They Won't: Victoria Azarenka

Saturday, August 24, 2013 /by

Victoria Azarenka took an enormous step toward winning a Grand Slam other than the Australian Open in the last premier event before the US Open, surviving a three-set war in Cincinnati with WTA No. 1—and US Open top seed—Serena Williams. The big question is whether that skill level and confidence carry over when the stakes are raised. Azarenka is a strong No. 2, but despite her Djokovic-esque start in 2012, she has also had a career-long tendency to play hide-and-seek with the challenge to assert her domination. In truth, some of that has been due to injury, or at least her desire to make sure she isn’t playing too frequently if things don’t seem entirely right. But it amounts to the same thing: a failure to take charge and prove herself as the woman to beat. If there’s ever been a propitious moment to reverse that trend, this is it.

Why She’ll Win: Vika was aggressive in Cincinnati, and it paid off. If she can continue to take charge of points the way she did against the most powerful and aggressive WTA star, she can hit anyone off the court.

Why She Won’t: Things seem to get complicated for Azarenka at critical times; it’s been the story of her career. She’ll feel pressure given her win in Cincinnati, and she may shrink away rather than embrace it.

Bottom Line: The Cincinnati final was almost an identical reprise of the Serena-vs.-Vika US Open final of last year. Azarenka will have to be patient and consistent to make sure the highly anticipated rematch takes place.

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