2012 Australian Open – Women’s Final Prediction and Breakdown
Maria Sharapova vs. Victoria Azarenka
This is definitely going to be one of the louder finals you have ever heard! Both women grunt and both are known to shriek so I suggest your purchase a set of earplugs and sit back to watch a battle with a ton on the line. The winner not only receives $2.3 million dollars, but also the title and the #1 ranking in the world! Let’s breakdown each player…
I am very familiar and friendly with the Sharapova family as Maria has been a part of the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy since she was 9 years old. Looking back to her early years, I must say that her father, Yuri, had a big influence on her life. Yuri stayed on the court hours and hours per day, not only watching every move she made, but also wrote down everything I said. He had a limited background in tennis, but was very wise to put her int he hands of the coaches who had great experience. Believe me when I say, Yuri was a big factor in her success, but let’s not put aside that he knew when to step aside and hire a full-time coach (Michael Joyce). This was a big decision and the results have been tremendous. Maria is now working with Thomas Hogstedt and they seem to be a great team.
Sharapova’s game is very simple. She stands close to inside the baseline taking the ball early. She hits it hard and flat from both sides, has quick preparation on her backhand side, goes for broke on the return of serve, will angle her shots when she moves the opponents deep behind the baseline, has worked on her serve which has really become a weapon, is extremely strong mentally and loves to hit the swinging volleys. Her best asset though is her will to win. She always finds a way, no matter what and if she loses it is only because she has run out of time!
Azarenka is one heck of a player and will match Sharapova grunt for grunt with her powerful shots! She is a big hitter with a powerful, killer forehand. She plays the important points very well and this is a sign of a champion. She often lets her opponents off the hook by not coming up and hitting a few swinging volleys, has a solid backhand and will constantly put pressure on her opponents throughout the match. She has yet to lose this year, and I know she doesn’t want that first “L” now!
Nick’s Pick – This is not an easy match to pick, but to me this comes down to forced and unforced errors. I don’t know Azarenka as well as I know Sharapova, but I know for a fact that Sharapova will not have any mental lapses. If Sharapova serves well I give her the edge, but regardless this is going to be close. There is no way I can pick against my girl, Maria! Sharapova in three sets!