Fixture: Victoria Azarenka vs Johanna Konta
Date: 28 August 2020
Note: All Western & Southern Open semifinals have been postponed by a day as a part of the "collective stance against racial inequality and social injustice" announced by the Western & Southern Open authorities on Thursday, 27 August.
Tournament: Western & Southern Open 2020
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,950,079
Match timing: 11 am EDT, 8.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN
Victoria Azarenka vs Johanna Konta preview
The Premier 5 event has brought some joy to two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and her countless fans after a very long time. The former World No. 1 has been strikingly the ball with confidence this week, and her post-childbirth struggles finally seem to be over.
Azarenka's controlled aggression has fetched her four wins this week, and has brought her back to the last-four of this tournament for the first time since she won it seven years ago.
Azarenka is yet to drop a set so far, but that is also the case for her next opponent, Johanna Konta. The Brit's journey at the tournament has been extremely breezy, which is surprising given she lost her very first match at the Top Seed Open when the tour restarted.
Konta has been a completely different player this week, and hasn't even been stretched to a tie-break in three matches.
Victoria Azarenka vs Johanna Konta head-to-head
Even though Victoria Azarenka is the more accomplished of the two players with 20 titles to show for, it is the three-time WTA titlist Johanna Konta who has a 2-1 edge in this rivalry.
The British player won their first meeting in Wuhan five years ago, via an Azarenka retirement. The Belarusian then had a commanding 6-4, 6-2 victory on her way to the title in their next showdown, at the Miami Open in 2016.
Konta avenged that defeat with a 6-3, 6-1 hammering of Azarenka at Montreal two years later.
Victoria Azarenka vs Johanna Konta prediction
Both Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta rely on pace, timing and precision, and it will be interesting to see who gets to establish the ascendancy in this match first.
When on song, Konta can be brutal with her first-strike tennis; she can run away with any match if her opponent is even half a step slow to start. The British No. 1 has been timing the ball wonderfully well this week too, as evident from the fact that she has conceded just 15 games in three matches.
Konta's serve and clean hitting off the ground are difficult for any player to deal with. But Azarenka has also rediscovered her firepower and touch, which makes this showdown extremely interesting.
Giving glimpses of the Victoria Azarenka of yore, the erstwhile No. 1 has been ruthlessly aiming for the lines and hasn't been missing much. The hunger and motivation that seemed to have gone missing the last couple of years due to her off-court troubles, finally seem to be back.
A two-time US Open runner-up, Azarenka looks happy to be back in a city where she has flourished in the past. She also seems to be drawing inspiration from her Cincinnati win in 2013.
Even when things haven't gone her way this week, the 31-year-old has stayed calm and been able to summon her best tennis under pressure. That itself should make her more than ready to face Konta.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to win in three sets.Published 27 Aug 2020, 16:18 IST