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

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Television

'Orphan Black' recap: Episode 1, ‘Nature Under Constraint…

Welcome to “Orphan Black” Season 2! Hopefully Tatiana Maslany can help Tatiana Maslany get through this, with the help of Tatiana Maslany, while avoiding the…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.