|Victoria Azarenka BLR (1) vs. Serena Williams USA (4)|
Here are my predictions for the women's final of the 2012 US Open. This year I have correctly predicted 3 of 4 women's quarterfinals, 3 of 4 of the men's quarterfinals, 2 of 2 women's semifinals and 2 of 2 men's semifinals.
How They Got Here: Women's Semifinals Review
Serena Williams USA (4) d. Sara Errani ITA (10) 6-1 6-2.
Serena was never threatened by the diminutive Italian who has become her country's best player by dint of having one of the best seasons of any player this year. Errani has won all 6 of her WTA career singles titles this year, and reached the quarterfinals or better in three majors, the first time she had ever progressed that far in any Grand Slam. Errani is a fighter but she has no shot that could trouble Serena, and the match was basically a mismatch, with the result never really in doubt.
Victoria Azarenka BLR (1) d. Maria Sharapova RUS (3) 3-6 6-2 6-4.
The other semifinal was completely different, one in which the result was hard to predict until the very last game, which was won by Azarenka. These two are establishing a significant rivalry, having played four times in 2012, with Vika winning three of these matches and now has a 6-4 lead in their career head-to-head. The two have very similar playing styles with hard-hitting groundstrokes on both wins, with stronger backhands than forehands. Azarenka has significantly better movement, while Sharapova can have a significantly better serve when she gets in a groove. This match was a war of attrition, with Azarenka surviving Sharapova's firepower with her retrieving powers (the Russian ended with 44 winners and 42 unforced errors, while the Belarussian ended with 19 winners and 19 errors). Sharapova's mental toughness and competitive spirit has served her well in winning 4 majors but Azarenka is 2 years younger and could very well end her career with an even larger numbers, depending on when Serena decides to retire.
The Women's Final: Prediction
However, after having two bad experiences in New York in 2011 against Sam Stosur and in 2009 against Kim Clijsters, Serena has been on her best behavior this year. Serena was unable to play the 2010 tournament due to her year-long medically induced hiatus from the game, and she last won this title in 2008 (over Jelena Jankovic). It's amazing that a few weeks before her 31st birthday Serena is the heavy favorite to win her 15th major title, pulling her within striking distance of the magic number of 18 that all-time greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert ended their storied careers with. If she were to get to the number then the question of Greatest of all Time would be another legitimate title to bestow upon her.
MadProfessah's Prediction: Serena.