Victoria Azarenka has dropped just one set during the tournament. Source: AFP/theaustralian.com.au
Victoria Azarenka will be bidding for her second straight Australian Open title when she faces world number six Li Na at Melbourne Park on Saturday night. 2011 French Open champion Li was beaten by Kim Clijsters in the final here two years ago, but is at the top of her game at the moment and will present a serious challenge to the Belarusian after progressing to the decider without dropping a set.
Li scored her first win in four matches against Maria Sharapova in the last round to advance to the decider and was imperious in doing so, winning in straight sets for the sixth straight match at the tournament. The world number six has had a tough draw as well, overcoming the second and fourth seeds in the past two rounds. This is the third time that the Chinese woman has reached the finale of a Grand Slam event after finishing as runner-up here two years ago before winning the French Open several months later.
World number one Azarenka has had a much easier run to the final. Semi-final opponent Sloane Stephens was the first seeded player that she had faced during the event. The 29th seed was no match for her more experienced opponent on Thursday however, and was beaten 6-1 6-4. Despite dropping a set against unheralded American Jamie Hampton in the 3rd round, Azarenka has hardly been troubled in Melbourne and has taken the first set 6-1 in four of her six matches at the tournament.
This is the third final that Azarenka has played in the past five Grand Slam events, having defeated Maria Sharapova in the 2012 Australian Open final in straight sets before finishing as runner-up at the US Open in September.
The pair have met nine times on the WTA Tour and Azarenka only holds a narrow 5-4 career advantage, but has won the past four clashes including all three last year. The last time that Li Na defeated the Belarusian however, was in the 4th round of this event in 2011.
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