Beijing Final Preview
Published October 06, 2012 06:25
BEIJING, China - China Open fans will be treated to the first World No.1 versus No.2 match-up in tournament history in Sunday's final, when No.1 Victoria Azarenka squares off with No.2 Maria Sharapova.
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National Tennis Stadium
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) vs.  Maria Sharapova (RUS #2)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 6-4
Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova have built up their rivalry into arguably the most exciting one on the WTA, with neither player ever winning more than two in a row and the stakes almost always great. Azarenka does have a 4-1 advantage in finals and is 3-1 in their series this year, including a triumph in their most recent encounter. That thrilling three-setter in the US Open semifinals is Sharapova's only three set loss all year.
Sharapova has the edge when it comes to history in finals, as she is 27-17 compared to 12-11 for Azarenka. She also is 6-7 all-time vs. World No.1s, while Azarenka is just 4-8 against Top 2 players.
"In the final, anything can happen," Azarenka said. "Maria is an excellent player. She's a huge fighter."
Sharapova is looking for her fourth title of the year and first since the French Open in June and Azarenka is seeking her fifth of the year and first since Indian Wells in March. If the Belarusian is victorious, she will be the first player ever with two Premier Mandatory titles in the same year.
Sharapova and Azarenka have both cruised through the draw this week without losing a set, Sharapova surrendering just 20 games and Azarenka 21. Sharapova has been especially impressive the last two rounds, dropping just four games combined against World No.6 Angelique Kerber and World No.8 Li Na. Azarenka's five victories this week have pushed her past Kerber for most wins on the WTA this season - 61.
One stat favoring Sharapova is No.2 seeds are 3-1 this season against No.1 seeds, though the lone victory for a No.1 seed was when Azarenka beat Sharapova in Indian Wells.
"I really wanted to do well and get to the final stage of this tournament because I haven't been to the finals here," Sharapova said.