Serena Williams (USA #1) vs.  Victoria Azarenka (BLR #2)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 12-3
Twelve months ago, Victoria Azarenka came within two points of winning the US Open, only to have it snatched out of her grasp by an inspired Serena Williams comeback.
On Sunday, she gets her shot at redemption and knows that anything less than her very best is likely to end in another runner-up speech. "You've got to fight. You know, you've got to run, you've got to grind, and you've got to bite with your teeth for whatever opportunity you have." Azarenka said after her semifinal win over Flavia Pennetta. "You know, she's obviously an amazing player. She's the greatest of all time."
Williams' performances over the past few seasons, during which time she has raised her major count to 17 and captured Olympic gold, have indeed seen her name enter the conversation on the greatest of all time. Yet despite her status as the WTA's undisputed queen bee - she holds a 2,765 point lead at the top of the rankings - this summer has not gone entirely to plan.
At Wimbledon, her fourth round exit to Sabine Lisicki was the biggest shock of an upset-filled fortnight, and in Cincinnati, her final tune-up even ahead of Flushing Meadows, she came up short against Azarenka. This second setback appeared to sting the American, who has performed like a woman on a mission, dropping just 16 games en route to the final.
While Azarenka's road to the rematch has been a far rockier one - she came from a set down against both Alizé Cornet and Ana Ivanovic - Williams has certainly not been lulled into a sense of false security. "I definitely feel like when she plays me she plays her best by far," Williams said. "I have seen her play other players, and when I play her, I'm playing a totally different player. Obviously she brings her best game."
Against such a consummate front runner, a fast start is imperative for the Belarusian, who will need to return accurately and produce a high first serve percentage. For all her athletic and technical qualities, though, it is Azarenka's competitive instinct - she has won 24 of her last 27 matches to go the distance - that is arguably the greatest threat to the World No.1.
"I think that the battles that we had, it was really just taking each other out of the most comfortable zone and just fight for every ball," Azarenka said. "We know each other pretty well. I know her strengths; she knows my strengths. That's what it's all about, about those turning points, who wants it more, who's willing to go for it more."
Road To The Final
First Round: d. Francesca Schiavone, 60 61 (1:00)
Second Round: d. Galina Voskoboeva, 63 60 (1:09)
Third Round: d. Yaroslava Shvedova, 63 61 (1:14)
Fourth Round: d. Sloane Stephens, 64 61 (1:27)
Quarterfinals: d. Carla Suárez Navarro, 60 60 (0:52)
Semifinals: d. Li Na, 60 63 (1:27)
First Round: d. Dinah Pfizenmaier, 60 60 (1:05)
Second Round: d. Aleksandra Wozniak, 63 61 (1:08)
Third Round: d. Alizé Cornet, 67(2) 63 62 (2:40)
Fourth Round: d. Ana Ivanovic, 46 63 64 (2:10)
Quarterfinals: d. Daniela Hantuchova, 62 63 (1:16)
Semifinals: d. Flavia Pennetta, 64 62 (1:34)
For more on the final, see our Match Notes in the Press Center.