Victoria Azarenka booked her place in a second straight final at the Madrid Masters after stretching her 2012 winning streak over Agnieszka Radwanska to six matches this season with a 6-2, 6-4 victory yesterday.
The world number one will play for her fifth title of the season when she takes on number nine seed Serena Williams, a 7-6 (7/5), 6-0 winner over Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka.
Azarenka has tasted victory in just one of seven matches with Williams, who won their last meeting at the 2011 US Open. However, she has lost just one set of 14 played this season against Radwanska and now leads 11-3 overall in their head-to-head series.
“I’m very happy to reach another final, that is always the goal,” said Azarenka. “I’ve had a lot of good matches this week. I’m glad to be back in the final. I’m looking forward to it. I was much younger and just coming on the tour [for many of our matches] but I have always been competitive against Serena and she’s one of the toughest opponents to play against. It’s going to be a different story this time. We had a very good match last year at the US Open so I can take some of the positive things out of that and it’s going to be the first time I play her on clay so we’ll see.”
Azarenka will be out to prove herself after losing the 2011 final here to Petra Kvitova, two months before the Czech made her major breakthrough by winning Wimbledon. She has four trophies this season, but will be aiming for her first of the year on clay, having last triumphed on hardcourt at Indian Wells in March.
Williams, meanwhile, advanced to the final without facing a break point against Hradecka, sweeping the last set to end with 19 winners.
“I’m feeling good,” said Williams. “We both served really well. She did everything well in the first set, but I was able to come through in the tie-breaker. I relaxed and made less errors and more shots. I’m ready going into this final. Victoria has played consistently all year; nearly perfect. I’m just going in with nothing to lose. She’s the top-ranked player and the favourite.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.