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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Australian Open Woman's Final Pick (January 26th)

Victoria Azarenka - 2.5 games v Na Li: This is a very close Final to call and it is no surprise that the layers are having trouble separating them at the moment.

It is going to be interesting to see how Victoria Azarenka is going to react to the last couple of days when she has been heavily criticised by almost every single person involved in tennis. Her 'injury time out' has been the big talking point in Australia and there is little doubt that the Melbourne crowd are not going to be on her side in this one.

We saw how they reacted to Tomas Berdych last season when he refused to shake Nicolas Almagro's hand after their match in the Fourth Round and I believe the crowd are going to be fully behind Na Li in this one.

The big point is whether Azarenka is going to come out with the siege mentality she has often displayed (mainly against the criticism of her 'grunts' during points on court) or whether she is going to crumble under the weight of pressure the last couple of days would have provided.

I also think you have to make your own mind up about whether Azarenka was really injured on Thursday or whether she had the nerves- I believe it was the latter and she will be absolutely fine to come out in this Final and play her usual game.

While I have said a lot about Azarenka, being the main talking point of the last couple of days, Na Li can't be underestimated as she has been playing some exceptional tennis, particularly in her Quarter Final and Semi Final wins over Agnieszka Radwanska and Maria Sharapova respectively.

This is some of the best tennis Li has played since winning the French Open in 2011 and there is no doubt that she is confident she can get the better of Azarenka in this one.

However, she has lost 4 matches in a row against the World Number 1, including all 3 matches in 2012, and that is a tough mental hurdle to overcome. Some of their matches have been close, but I think the difference here is that Azarenka is the better return of serve and her movement is also a little better than the older Li.

Li also doesn't have the variation that can trouble Azarenka at times and I think her groundstrokes are more likely to break down of the two players. It could be a tough three set tussle, but I do think the World Number 1 will rubber stamp that position by retaining her title from a season ago.

MY PICK: Victoria Azarenka - 2.5 Games @ 2.10 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Australian Open Update: 16-26, - 14.12 Units (76 Units Staked, - 18.6% Yield)

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