Serena and Vika, once again, in a Grand Slam matchup. This time around, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka lock rackets in the US Open final later today in Forest Hills, NY.
In 15 contests, Serena has the strong upper hand, winning 12 times, including both times in prior US Open duels. This is a repeat of last year’s final, which Serena won in 3 sets, 28 games. Their longest duel was 31 games in the 2010 Australia Open quarters. Further, Serena has a 6-3 edge in outdoor hard court wins.
Taking a sampling of stats from their last 14 matchups, here are the trends that are notable:
Vika has consistently double faulted more than score aces. In fact 2 of the 3 times she had 3 aces, she won.
Her 1st service % is pretty consistent, 69% in her wins against Serena, 67% in losses. 1st service points won: 67% in wins, 60% in losses.
Fastest speed of serve has averaged at 173 KPH, with average 1st service of 155, 138 in 2nd service.
Break points converted in wins: 37%. Losses: 25%.
Return points won: 49%. Losses: 27%.
Vika has averaged a ratio of 5 more errors to winners in their matchups.
Net opportunities have averaged 65%.
Keys to win:
Must get 3 aces.
71% success rate in getting the first serve in.
46% in return points won
Looking at her tournament so far, has she met these benchmarks against her opponents? In 6 matches, she hit 1 benchmark vs Flavia Pennetta, 1 vs Daniela Hantuchova, 3 for 3 vs Ana Ivanovic, 0 vs Alize Cornet, (winning in 3 sets plus tiebreak, 30 games), 2 vs Alexsandra Wozniak, and 1 vs Dinah Pfizenmaier.
Serena is averaging 62% for 1st service %, 55% in losses to Vika.
Serena is always scoring a bunch of aces, and very few double faults. In her 3 losses to Vika, she had at least 5 double faults.
1st service points won: 78% in wins, 65% in losses.
2nd service points won: 67% in wins, 37% in losses.
Fastest speed has averaged at 190 in their matchups.
Her average 1st service speed is 173 Kph, exactly the average fastest speed by Vika. Clearly Serena is an another level here!
2nd service speed is usually 138.
Break points conversion %: 53% in wins, 35% in losses to Vika.
Return points won: 46% in wins, 41% in losses.
Consistenly scoring 10 more winners than unforced errors in their match, a swing of 15 points in their 15 matches.
Net opportunities: averaging 66% in their matches.
Keys for Serena to win:
Less than 5 double-faults.
1st serve % higher than 62%
1st service points won at least 70%
2nd service points won at least 47%
Break points conversion at least 46%
Return points win % at least 45%.
Comparing her US Open tournament trail, she hit 4 of those benchmarks vs Na Li, 5 vs Carla Suarez-Navarro, 4 vs. Sloane Stephens, 5 vs Yaroslava Shvedova, 5 vs Galina Voskoboeva, and 5 vs Francesca Schiavone, all in straight sets.
To sum up, whichever opponent has the better % in 1st service, (70%+) and/or return points won (ideally 45%+) will be your champion.
Here are Vika’s cycles first:
Unlikely to do much today. Physically she’s been a low and making more of her share of unforced errors for certain, and she is currently lacking a sense of connection to the fans and her overall self-worth. Athletic ability is approaching a nadir.
She’s had to channel all her strength into her power game, not so much finesse, to succeed today. She’s gotten down on herself lately, and she’s also made her share of errors. Also not connecting with the energy of the NYC crowd as much. If anything, her sheer physicality is still strong, and it will be enough to see her through.
Serena in straight sets, tho I’m guessing it will be of the 6-4, 6-2 variety.