Sunday, August 1, 2010

Azarenka and Sharapova set for final showdown

Victoria Azarenka gave herself a 21st birthday present to remember on Saturday, July 31, 2010, ousting the Bank of the West Classic's top seed, Samantha Stosur, in straight sets in the semifinals.

Azarenka, the No.8 seed, had never lost a set to Stosur in their three previous meetings, and that trend continued as she pushed the aggressive Australian back behind the baseline throughout the match with her trademark penetrating groundstrokes. After an hour and 24 minutes it was all over and she won, 6-2 6-3.

"I served well, played very well on the return and was solid from the baseline," Azarenka said. "Sam's an amazing player. She has had great results this year and it gives me even more confidence I can beat her when she's in good form. It's also definitely good to get a win on my birthday!"

Azarenka, who fell first round in her only previous appearance in Stanford in 2007, is now through to her 10th career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final, winning 3 and losing 6 in her first nine. She won all three of her career titles last year (Brisbane, Memphis, Miami) but has gone 0-2 in finals this year (Dubai, Eastbourne).

Fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova won her semifinal match on Saturday night to set up the final at the $700,000 Bank of the West Classic tennis event.

Russia's Sharapova bounced back from a first set loss to rally for a 1-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory over third-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska on the hardcourts at Taube Family Tennis Stadium.

Sharapova will be going for her 23rd career title and third of the year.

Sharapova remained undefeated in four semifinal matches this season and will be looking for her third title.

The Russian star and the third-seeded Radwanska are both expected to move up in the rankings when they are released Monday. A tournament title would give Sharapova her best ranking since returning from a shoulder injury in May of 2009.

Radwanska, 0-3 in semifinals this year, is projected to nudge into the top 10.
Azarenka can rise to world number 12 with a win.

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