U.S. Open Women’s Preview: Serena, Azarenka favorites again

Serena Williams lost to Victoria Azarenka at the Western & Southern Open a week ago. Credit: Getty Images
Serena Williams lost to Victoria Azarenka at the Western & Southern Open a week ago.
Credit: Getty Images

Serena Williams comes into the U.S. Open off a loss.

And you can bet the ultra-competitive tennis superstar is hungry to avenge it.

For that to happen, No. 1-seeded Serena would need to meet No. 2 Victoria Azarenka in the women’s final for the second straight year.

Azarenka took out Serena in three sets in the recent final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and won’t back down from the 16-time major winner if they meet again under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.

“I’m definitely really excited,” said Williams, who beat Azarenka in three sets to win the 2012 U.S. Open championship and opens defense of her title Monday night against Francesca Schiavone at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “Every time I lose, I get so pumped afterwards and I just feel that way. I just feel like now I’m ready; now I’m prepared. I almost needed that to take my game to a new level.”

With Maria Sharapova out of the tournament because of a shoulder injury, the women’s draw looks like a two-person race.

Serena is 60-4 in 2013 and holds a 12-3 career record against Azarenka, but two of those losses came this year.

“It gives you great confidence,” said Azarenka, whose two career major championships came at the Australian Open in 2012 and ’13. “But I always think that the new week is the new story. You can always take the best out of what happened last week and, you know, six months ago.

“So I will definitely take that into consideration, but the new week, U.S. Open, Serena No. 1 player in the world, defending champion here, we all start kind of from zero here.”

Said Williams: “I think the head to head is close, but I think it’s just always good to play such great players like Victoria who really plays well and makes me lift my game to a new level.”

With 16 career majors singles titles, Williams ranks sixth all time, and is just two behind Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who won 18 apiece.

If she adds a 17th major title in New York, Williams could tie and then pass those two legends in 2014.

“I’m always thinking about the Grand Slams,” Williams said. “I’m always thinking about, ‘Wow, I can’t wait to get to the Open,’ or, ‘Gosh, I can’t wait to go to Australia.’ There are different memories that pop up in my mind. The Open, I just see Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“Each slam has different memories. It’s special.”

WOMEN TO WATCH …

Favorites

Serena Williams (No. 1 seed) — The 16-time Grand Slam champion is the defending champ and favorite to win her fifth Flushing Meadows title.

Victoria Azarenka (No. 2 seed) — With two victories over Serena in 2013, Azarenka’s confidence is soaring heading into New York, where she lost in three close sets to Williams in last year’s final.

Dark Horses

Samantha Stosur (No. 11 seed) — The Australian won the championship here in 2011, beating Williams in the final, but enters with just a 28-17 record in 2013.

Sloane Stephens (No. 15 seed) — The 20-year-old American reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, beating Williams in the process, and the quarters at Wimbledon.

Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter @AdamZagoria for updates throughout the U.S. Open.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…