The match was intriguing in many aspects, with both young women performing powerfully and aggressively. Of course, both their careers are on the rise. Maria defeated German Andrea Petkovic in Indian Wells, who had sensationally knocked out first seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, and sixth seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia. Victoria beat two Russians (Vera Zvonareva and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova), in addition to the favourite of the tournament — Kim Clijsters of Belgium. Their established equality, having won two matches each to date, allowed the audience to watch a true battle of wills: an uncompromising Russian-Belarusian competition.
The beginning of the match immediately revealed some nervous tension, with each showing signs of nerves. They managed to break each other’s serves, although Sharapova’s play was more energetic and feisty. However, several mistakes levelled her advantage.
Azarenko was more sober-minded and cautious, successful in defence and playing a waiting game. Impressively, she also seized the opportunity to attack when it came, lunging forcefully to bewilder her Russian rival, whom she tired during baseline rallies. As a result, Azarenko won the first set: 6:1.
In the second, the match continued to develop in the same direction. Her success in the first set gave Victoria confidence in her strength, with no break-points witnessed. Moreover, luck was also on Victoria’s side; she won four games in a row with ease. However, in the fifth game, eighth seeded Victoria lost concentration, allowing Sharapova to close the gap to the minimum. Fortunately, the Belarusian tennis star finally won 6:4.
“I’m very pleased with my results in the last three-four weeks. I was off form in February, when I pulled out of the tournament in Paris, but am playing successfully now. I went to the American tournament without any hopes, having been unwell for three weeks beforehand. However, I did my best and I’m very proud of this,” noted Ms. Azarenko at her after-match press conference.
The title, won in Miami, is the first for the Belarusian tennis star this season and the sixth of her professional career. In six previous finals, she has yielded to her opponents.