Indian Wells Final Preview
Published March 17, 2012 11:29
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) vs.  Maria Sharapova (RUS #2)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 4-3
On Sunday, the World No.1 and No.2-ranked players will meet in the final of a WTA event for the first time in more than four years. The players in question are Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, who face one another just six weeks after contesting the Australian Open final. On that occasion it was Azarenka who came out on top, and since then she has not looked back, winning all 10 of her subsequent matches to post the best start to a season since 1997.
This is a far cry from 12 months ago when, after a disappointing few months, Azarenka was contemplating her future in tennis. However, a post-tournament heart-to-heart with her grandmother helped to transform both her approach to the game and results on the court. Now the Belarusian is the complete package, combining exceptional, groundstrokes, movement and court craft with an insatiable will to win.
Azarenka, who is appearing in her first Indian Wells final, is bidding to become the tournament's ninth different champion in the last nine years. Among those eight different winners is Sharapova. Her title triumph came back in 2006, and judging by her performances over the past week and a half she is ready to reclaim the trophy. After dropping just one set in the first four rounds, Sharapova produced her best tennis of 2012 in a high-quality semifinal with Ana Ivanovic that unfortunately ended prematurely due to a hip injury to the Serb.
If Sharapova carries this form into the final then she has the artillery to finally put an end to Azarenka's 22-match unbeaten run. However, against an opponent that she has not taken a set from in four matches, anything less will surely see her become victim number 23.
Road To The Final
First Round: bye
Second Round: d. Mona Barthel, 64 67(4) 76(6) (3:01)
Third Round: d. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 61 62 (1:01)
Fourth Round: d. Julia Goerges, 63 61 (1:09)
Quarterfinals: d. Agnieszka Radwanska, 60 62 (1:08)
Semifinals: d. Angelique Kerber, 64 63 (1:29)
First Round: bye
Second Round: d. Gisela Dulko, 62 60 (1:06)
Third Round: d. Simona Halep, 63 64 (1:37)
Fourth Round: d. Roberta Vinci, 62 61 (1:13)
Quarterfinals: d. Maria Kirilenko, 36 75 62 (3:05)
Semifinals: d. Ana Ivanovic, 64 01 ret (1:13)
For more on today's matches, see our Match Notes in the Press Center.