Found January 25, 2013 on In the Tramlines:
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The Final of the 2013 Australian Open was supposed to be a grand showdown between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. After Williams was stunned by 19 year-old American Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals, most people assumed the Final would be a re-match between Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. Those two women met in the Australian Open Final last year, with Azarenka winning in two sets. As a shock to almost everyone, Sharapova was dismantled by Chinese veteran Na Li in the semifinals, who will now face the aforementioned Azarenka in the Women's Singles Final. Both women are playing in their second Australian Open Final . Li Na lost in heartbreaking fashion to Kim Clijsters two years ago, while Azarenka is the defending Champion. This promises to be a great Final, as both women are in great form. Let's take a quick look at the Women's Singles Final of the 2013 Australian Open. Women's Final Na Li [6] vs. Victoria Azarenka [1] Just from taking a look at these two women, it is obvious that this match will be decided on the baseline, as Li and Azarenka are two of the hardest-hitting women in the world. Both favor their backhands, so expect there to be plenty of entertaining backhand-to-backhand to rallies. It will be crucial for both players to take some chances on the forehand side in an attempt to take control of points early. The serve will also be extremely important, especially for Li. Azarenka is one of the best returners in the women's game, and the serve has never been a great strength of the Chinese veteran, although it has definitely improved as of late. Azarenka has been very up and down with her serve throughout most of this tournament, so look for Li to take plenty of chances on the return in order to try to put pressure on the No. 1 player in the world. Aside from on-court tactics, this match seems to be very even. Both have won Major Championships, so nerves should not play a large part in this particular Final. One factor that is worth keeping an eye on, however, is the crowd. Azarenka has never been a popular player, and this will especially be the case after the controvery she caused in her previous match, when she left the court for an apparent injury timeout in order to steady her nerves. Na Li, on the other hand, is a fan favorite in Australia. The crowds always seem willing to embrace her. Look for her to really feed off of the crowd energy, especially early. When all is said and done on Rod Laver Arena, Na Li will be the 2013 Australian Open Champion after winning a dramatic three-set Final. Enjoy the match!
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