Victoria Azarenka vs. Maria Sharapova
I refuse to make any jokes about how noisy this match is likely to be. Azarenka has cleared a number of mental hurdles at this event. She played admirably well at the 2011 Year End Championships. Beating Kim Clijsters after being rolled in the second set speaks well of her mental fortitude. Having said that, I think Maria Sharapova wins this match in 2 sets. Sharapova has had health issues and this is a great chance for her to win another slam. Her serve may or may not hold up again. I suspect that Sharapova will harness her sense of urgency and win this title. Vika will win a Grand Slam in the next 18 months, but it won’t be this one. As a fan, I hope I am wrong as I always like to see players break through.
Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal
I was asked earlier this week if Roger Federer should be favored over Rafael Nadal. I answered that I thought Federer had a great shot at advancing, but it is hard for me to see him as a favorite versus Nadal at this stage of things. I will have a longer write up of this unprecedented 3rd consecutive Grand Slam final featuring the same two competitors. However, my answer is basically the same for the final. I think Nadal has a great chance at winning especially considering that Djokovic expended a lot of energy versus Andy Murray. Still, I cannot say that Nadal is favored versus Djokovic until he beats him again in a big situation. I predict that Novak Djokovic will win his 3rd Australian Open title in 3 or 4 sets.