DOHA, Qatar - In the most fitting ending to a week after which the No.1 ranking will change hands, the outgoing World No.1 will play the incoming World No.1 in the final of the Qatar Total Open.
"I think it was a really high performance match from both of us," Azarenka said. "It was a little bit shaky in the beginning - I think I did a little bit too many unforced errors and rushed a little bit into the rallies, but I started to be patient and more aggressive and dominant, really going for my shots when there was an opportunity, and taking advantage of every short ball she gave me. I'm glad I could turn it around."
Serena Williams, who secured herself of returning to No.1 by reaching the semifinals, made it a step further, beating World No.3 Maria Sharapova in that semifinal match, 63 62. And just like the first semifinal, it was history repeating - Williams has now beaten Sharapova 10 consecutive times.
"Maria is always playing really well and so consistent, but I'm trying to be consistent as well," Williams said. "I love it here in Doha. I've never played this particular tournament but I've played in Doha before and had some good results, and I hope to have a good result in the final tomorrow, too."
Despite the loss, Sharapova talked about not letting her record against Williams into her mind this time. "When I go into a match, everything starts from scratch, even if I'm going against someone I've beaten many times," she said. "That's the way you have to look at every single match, no matter what your winning or losing record is against them. There's a reason why the nets go up in the morning.
"I'm certainly capable of beating a player like that, like Serena, no doubt - that's why I'm always eager to get better and make my game better in order to go out onto the court and beat her."
While both semifinals ended up following the head-to-head patterns, if the same thing is to happen in the final, Williams has to be a big favorite to take the Premier-level title - not only does she lead Azarenka in their career head-to-head, 11-1, but she has won the pair's last nine meetings.
Azarenka talked about the prospect of facing Williams. "I just have to be consistent and really focused on my own game," she said. "We all know she has a great serve. She's really aggressive and really consistent. So for me it's important to just focus on myself and execute my game. That's it."
Azarenka was asked in her press conference about the Williams becoming the oldest World No.1 in the history of the WTA. "Oh, I don't think that would really make her that happy!" Azarenka joked.
The 23-year-old was then told of Williams' comment that she felt more like 22 years old than 31. "Well, then she's younger than me!" Azarenka added. "But seriously, she has really changed the women's game, really lifted it up. She's a legend in tennis. I don't know where I'm going to be at 31.
"It's definitely an incredible achievement."
Williams was asked about the looming battle with Azarenka. "I feel like every time you have to go in with a new spirit - it's a new day," she said of the match-up. "The slate is wiped clean to me."
She was also asked about whether, at Azarenka's age, she thought she would still be playing now. "I never thought I would be, although I don't feel 31 - I don't know where the time went!" she said. "But I have nothing else to do. I'm still pretty good at tennis, so why not? I'd just rather not sit at home all day.
"It's kinda fun. I love playing. I love winning."