Fixture: Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
Date: 10 September 2020
Tournament: US Open 2020
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $39,024,000
Match timing: 8:30 pm EDT, 6 am IST
Live Telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka preview
The business end of the 2020 US Open sees a blockbuster match-up, as old foes Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka reignite their rivalry in the semifinals on Thursday.
Going for her 24th Grand Slam title, Serena Williams has struggled for consistency this tournament and has had to fight back from the clutches of defeat on more than one occasion. The No. 3 seed has dropped a set each in her previous three matches, albeit to in-form opponents.
Serena is also the only player in the semifinal lineup to have not made a tour final since the restart of tennis.
In her quarterfinal match against Tsvetana Pironkova, Serena fought back from a set and a break down to win the 'Battle of the mothers' in three sets. The American struggled to find the rhythm in her groundstrokes for a set and a half, spraying some wild errors all over the court, before she finally got hold of the match.
In particular, Serena had a tough time dealing with Pironkova's sliced forehand, which often set up easy winners for the Bulgarian. But once she broke back in the second set to get to 2-2, the 38-year-old never looked back.
Serena broke her opponent thrice more in the match to win the latter two sets 6-3, 6-2.
She now looks to reach the final and take another shot at the coveted Major No. 24, but has the rejuvenated Victoria Azarenka in her way.
The unseeded Azarenka, who looked down and out at the start of the year, has now won 10 straight matches going into Thursday's US Open semifinal. Even more remarkably, she has dropped only two sets during this stretch.
The Belarusian produced one of the finest displays of the tournament so far in her quarterfinal against Elise Mertens, sweeping aside the Belgian 6-1, 6-0. Such was Azarenka's dominance that, in a match that lasted just 64 minutes, Mertens failed to hold serve even once and got broken six times.
Azarenka's confidence could be measured from the pinpoint, line-kissing down-the-line backhands she kept unleashing, almost akin to her peak 2013 self.
Victoria Azarenka would now be hoping to make her third career final at the US Open, but to do that she will have to stare down the woman who beat her in both the previous finals.
Also check out: The complete US Open Schedule 2020
Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka head-to-head
The head-to-head in the decade-old rivalry between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka currently stands at 18-4 in favor of Williams. But the numbers don't reflect how close many of their matches have been.
Seven of their last 12 matches have gone to the deciding set, including the two US Open finals in 2012 and 2013 (both of which were won by Serena). The last time the two met - at Indian Wells 2019 - Serena won in straight sets, but that was another high-quality affair filled with intense rallies and jaw-dropping winners.
Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka prediction
Victoria Azarenka rolled back the years in her quarterfinal match on Wednesday, and has been in stunning form all fortnight. Her backhand and overall groundstroke depth have been as consistent as ever, and she seemingly can't miss with her drive volley.
But one part of Azarenka's game that could be a concern is her second serve, which is the main reason she got broken against Mertens to drop her lone game of the match.
Serena Williams is one of the best returners ever off the second serve, and more often than not makes her opponents pay for missing their first. But the American has problems of her own, as seen in her past three matches where she struggled to consistently be the better player throughout the match.
The semifinal between the two veterans will be the biggest attraction of the day, as two of most solid baseline players ever go head-to-head once again in what could possibly be their last ever meeting on the big stage. Both women want this really badly, but based on recent form and fitness, there seems to be a clear favorite.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to win in two tight sets.