Defending champion Serena Williams is the 1/ 4 favourite to beat Victoria Azarenka in the US Open final, and on current form few would oppose her.
The 31-year-old has been utterly indomitable in the tournament so far, dropping a staggeringly low 16 games in her first six matches – and just three in her previous two; the contempt with which she dismantled fifth seed Na Li 6-0, 6-3 in the semis was a startling reminder of her ability to humble world class opposition.
However, in Victoria Azarenka she faces an opponent with a genuine cause for optimism. While the American leads the pair’s career head-to-head 12-3, the Belarusian has won both of their encounters on hard courts in 2013, including the final of the Cincinnati Masters last month. Second seed Azarenka will find plenty of support at 3/1.
A two-time Grand Slam winner, Azarenka has proven that she has the mental and physical qualities to pose Serena questions. Both of their hard court clashes this year have gone to three sets, and in each of those matches Azarenka has taken the tie-breaks.
In addition, the pair competed in last year’s final, Williams triumphing 7-5 in the third. The enduring nature of their recent encounters suggests that 4/5 on their being over 20.5 games will garner plenty of attention.
Serena is 10/3 to win by two sets to one, while Azarenka is a hugely enticing 6/1 to do the same; 8/13 for Serena to win in two seems harsh on her opponent.
The primary reservation over Azarenka is her serve. She has committed 31 double faults to date, at an average of over five per match, and is 4/11 to serve the most double faults in this clash.
However, with a 31-1 record the 24-year-old has the WTA’s best record on this surface in 2013, her only defeat coming to Sam Stosur in Carlsbad, in what was her first tournament after Wimbledon.
Having barely broken sweat in getting to a seventh US Open final Williams has undeniably earned her favourite status, but in Azarenka she faces a worthy challenger who has proven on the Tour this year that mentally she is her equal – no mean feat – and has highly plausible claims for a maiden US Open title.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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