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Azarenka sets up final with Williams

ESPN staff
February 16, 2013 « Farah season gathers pace with win | Chartbeat test »
Victoria Azarenka is unbeaten in 2013 but will lose her No. 1 crown on Monday © Getty Images
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Out-going world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka will have a chance to embarrass the world ranking system after setting up a Qatar Open final with Serena Williams - the lady who will take her crown on Monday.

Azarenka beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-3 in her semi-final in Doha but even if she successfully defends her title against Williams on Sunday, she will still lose the title of No. 1.

Azarenka's victory over Pole Radwanska was owed to the steady and consistent side of her play rather than the brilliant side. The one-hour-and-18-minute win means the Belarusian stays unbeaten in 2013.

Radwanska's defeat was her seventh in a row against Azarenka but she earned the praise of her opponent.

"I think it was a really high performance match from both of us," Azarenka said. "It was a little bit shaky in the beginning - I think I did a little bit too many unforced errors and rushed a little bit into the rallies, but I started to be patient and more aggressive and dominant, really going for my shots when there was an opportunity, and taking advantage of every short ball she gave me. I'm glad I could turn it around."

Williams beat Maria Sharapova in similarly straight-forward style 6-3 6-2 but was a shade quicker than Azarenka in wrapping up the win, doing so in one hour and 13 minutes.

At 31 Williams will become the oldest world No. 1 on Monday. She last held that title in 2010 and has battled blood clots on her lungs as well as tennis opponents in the intervening two and three-quarter-years. She has now won her past 10 matches against Sharapova but the Russian said her poor record against Williams did not play on her mind going into the game.

"When I go into a match, everything starts from scratch, even if I'm going against someone I've beaten many times," Sharapova said. "That's the way you have to look at every single match, no matter what your winning or losing record is against them. There's a reason why the nets go up in the morning.

"I'm certainly capable of beating a player like that, like Serena, no doubt - that's why I'm always eager to get better and make my game better in order to go out onto the court and beat her."

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