Predicted Winners in BOLD
Victoria Azarenka (1) vs. Serena Williams (4)
Victoria Azarenka has had a great, and I mean great, 2012. She won her first Grand Slam final in Melbourne in convincing fashion. That victory led to her becoming #1 in the world in a manner that Jankovic, Safina and Wozniacki never did. She had a great winning streak. Vika won a Gold Medal in mixed doubles and a Bronze Medal in singles to add to her trophy case.
She now has an opportunity. Right now Vika is the #2 player in the world in my mind and in the minds of most tennis fans and pundits. A win today would mean 2 slams, 2 Olympic medals and control of the destiny of the WTA. In 2011, Vika played Serena tough losing 1-6, 6-7. At Wimbledon 2012, Vika lost 3-6, 6-7. Their Olympic match was a thrashing, but Azarenka was the one player in this draw that I thought had a realistic shot at beating Serena.*
Will she win? I don’t think so. Sernea is clearly #1 on grass courts. I think Serena is #1 everywhere else as well. I expect the match to be reasonably close, but Serena’s serve, ability to go from defense to offense and will to win set her apart in most of these big occasions. For Vika to win, she will need to force Sernea to play defensive tennis when possible, shift from defense to offense when possible and play great defense herself. Those are a lot of “ifs” needed for victory so I will pick the consensus favorite to take her 4th US Open title. Prediction: Serena Williams d. Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-3.
* – Kim Clijsters lengthy winning streak at the US Open made me think she had a miraculous shot at winning the title as well.
Novak Djokovic (2) vs. David Ferrer (4)
We saw this same match in the 2007 US Open semifinal round. The good news for David Ferrer is he is playing much better than he did in 2007. The bad news is that Novak Djokovic is playing much better as well. Novak is 32-1 in his 5 most recent hard court Grand Slam events. Ferrer has played magnificent tennis in 2012 and especially here in New York. I think Ferrer will earn a set vs. Nole, but Novak is going to his 3rd consecutive US Open final. The deciding factor is Nole’s return and serve are both stronger than Ferrer’s. That is too much real estate to surrender and expect to win a 3 out of 5 set match. Prediction: Novak Djokovic d. David Ferrer 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Andy Murray (3) vs. Tomas Berdych (6)
Berdych has beaten Murray on clay and could bully him off of the court. However, I think Murray’s speed will be the difference in this match. If Murray can dig out some of Berdych’s booming shots and force the big man to scramble some via counter-punching, Murray wins in 4 sets. Prediction: Andy Murray d. Tomas Berdych 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.