Serena Williams celebrates after defeating Maria Sharapova in the Brisbane International semifinals, January 3. Reuters
The two best women's tennis players in the world -- Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka - lock horns in what promises to be a can't-wait-to-see-this Brisbane International final on Saturday.
Williams, the world number one, and overwhelming favourite in whichever tournament she plays, got the better of Maria Sharapova in the semifinals on Friday, with the Russian, yet again, unable to find an answer to the American's power.
Despite being far from her best, especially in a close second set, where she was a break down, Williams showed the wherewithal to come back and eventually pull off a 6-2, 7-6 (7) victory.
"The quality of the match was very high, especially from Maria's end, so it was good for me to come up with a win in that match," Williams said on Friday. "We're both very strong returners, and personally I couldn't get a first serve in today. My first serve percentage was really low. I didn't serve nearly as well as I served in my first two matches. So that obviously played a little bit of a factor during the match today.
"But it was fun. Some of those points were really long and the intensity was so high. Maria was hitting extremely hard and I was retrieving a lot. So was she. My gosh, she was getting so many balls back."
Azarenka, seed second in the tournament behind Williams, was at her effective best in the earlier semifinal in Brisbane, fighting past veteran and fourth seed Jelena Jankovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
"Jelena played really, really well in the first set -- I felt that I could have done better, but it's just the matter of getting that timing and really fighting through it," Azarenka said. "I was able to change it around in the second set.
"I really tried to apply the game I wanted to apply, whereas in the first set it was a little bit out, a little bit short. So I had to get into that timing because I felt I was doing the right thing. It wasn't the best execution, but she was playing some really good tennis out there."
Azarenka will now look to take those fighting qualities to the final against Williams, who holds a 13-3 record against her, even if the two players split four matches last year.
"It's a good rivalry. She's so intense on court, and off court she's so cool. So that's what makes the rivalry the best, is because when you step on the court I don't know her and she doesn't know me, and we fight like crazy," Williams said of her Belarusian opponent. "When it's over, it's over. There's a lot of mutual respect there."
Where to Watch Live
The women's final is scheduled for a (not before) 7pm local time start (1.30 pm IST) with live coverage on Ten HD and Ten Sports. The match can be watched via live streaming across the world HERE. The men's action from the Brisbane International can be live streamed HERE, with Roger Federer set to play in both singles and doubles.
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