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Azarenka vs Muguruza WTA Rome tennis live streaming, preview and predictions

Victoria Azarenka has won 15 of her last 16 matches – will Garbine Muguruza be the one to stop her Rome run in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarterfinals?

Azarenka vs Muguruza is live from Rome on Saturday 19 September, 2pm local/1pm BST

US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka last made it past the quarterfinals in Rome in 2013, when she went all the way to the final – and Azarenka has been playing like it’s 2013 again in the past few weeks as the former world no. 1 racks up victories during a splendid resurgence.

WTA Rome 2020: Find out tournament information for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and how to stream ATP Rome matches live

Garbine Muguruza, like Azarenka a two-time Grand Slam champion and former world no. 1, is trying to pull out of a slump herself in 2020: The Australian Open finalist is out to reach her third semifinal of the season and her third at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but she’ll have to beat Azarenka to do it.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Azarenka vs Muguruza: Head-to-head

Victoria Azarenka technically leads the head-to-head with Garbine Muguruza 2-1, but only one of their matches has actually been completed: A 7-6(6), 7-6(4) victory for Azarenka in Miami back in 2016.

Two subsequent meetings ended in retirements, one from Azarenka in the Monterrey final in 2019, one from Muguruza at this same tournament last year.

Azarenka vs Muguruza: Preview

Despite many confident predictions that she would pull out of Rome altogether after a stunning month on the US swing saw her win the Western & Southern Open and reach the final of the US Open, Victoria Azarenka is into the quarterfinals at the Foro Italico, and she’s barely skipped a beat despite having to make a quick transition between continents and surfaces.

After beating Venus Williams in the first round, Azarenka delivered one of the most stunning beatdowns you’ll ever see to Sofia Kenin, beating the flailing Australian Open champion 6-0, 6-0 to book her place in the last 16. Against Daria Kasatkina on Friday, it seemed that Azarenka might be tested to her limits and perhaps beyond, with the Russian – a former top-10 player just showing signs of pulling out of a prolonged slump – led Azarenka by a break twice in the first set and even served for it before being taken to a tie-break. Unfortunately, two points into that tie-break, Kasatkina took a bad tumble, injuring her ankle, and was forced to retire.

Azarenka was the picture of sportsmanship, immediately fetching a bag of ice for her stricken opponent, helping Kasatkina to her chair, then going above and beyond to try to comfort the weeping Russian. It’s not the way that she would have liked to reach the quarterfinals – but she’s here.

The world no. 14 last made it past the quarterfinals in Rome in 2013, the same year she made her last Grand Slam final before this year’s US Open. Standing in her way is Muguruza, a two-time Internazionali BNL d’Italia semifinalist and, like Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion – except that unlike Azarenka, one of Muguruza’s two majors came on clay at the French Open.

Garbine Muguruza has made the Rome semifinals twice (Foto Alfredo Falcone – LaPresse)

Muguruza’s runner-up finish to Kenin at the Australian Open in January was a welcome sign of life from the Spanish player, who had been playing sub-par tennis for a while, but her return to action post-shutdown didn’t go to plan – injury kept her from playing ‘Cincinnati’, and then she became the first high-profile victim of Tsvetana Pironkova’s upset run in the second round of the US Open.

On clay this week, though, Muguruza has started to look formidable, beating Sloane Stephens and 2019 runner-up Johanna Konta in straight sets on either side of winning a long, intense tussle with Coco Gauff.

The head-to-head between Azarenka and Muguruza is not much help here: Their only completed match was in 2016, a win in two tie-breaks for Azarenka. The Belarusian is on incredible form, but she also must have fatigue issues which will at some point kick in; clay is a better surface for Muguruza. Game-wise they’re well-matched: Muguruza has a bigger serve, Azarenka a better return; Muguruza is a slightly more explosive hitter, Azarenka a better mover; both women are more about taking the ball early than anything else. Purely because of her comfort level on this surface, I think Muguruza will win, but it’s going to be tight.

Azarenka vs Muguruza: Prediction

Muguruza to win

A second US Open title for Naomi Osaka, or the end of a seven-year Grand Salm drought for Victoria Azarenka? An extraordinary US Open final awaits.

Osaka vs Azarenka is live from New York on Saturday 12 September, 4pm local/9pm BST

The final that we didn’t get to see in ‘Cincinnati’ will instead take place on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the grand prize – a Grand Slam title – as Naomi Osaka, the 2018 US Open champion, faces off with the resurgent Victoria Azarenka, into her first major final in seven years.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

It’s a fitting finale to this unusual but gripping US Open after both women fought their way through a pair of classic semifinals, Osaka beating Jennifer Brady while Azarenka avenged two US Open final defeats to Serena Williams.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Osaka vs Azarenka: Head-to-head

Naomi Osaka leads the head-to-head with Victoria Azarenka 2-1, having beaten her in Rome in 2018 and at the French Open in 2019.

Their only match on hard courts was a win for Azarenka, 6-1, 6-1 at the Australian Open in 2016.

Osaka vs Azarenka: Preview

There was a lot of talk about asterisks in the run-up to this US Open, but whoever wins the title will have earned it by playing some spectacular tennis against tough opponents – not least the one they face in the final.

Osaka, the favourite, has never lost a Grand Slam final and has a 5-2 record in WTA Tour finals overall. The Japanese-Haitian player has spoken of the importance of sustaining a positive attitude and that’s been evident; even when her matches have got tough – taken to three sets as she was twice in the first three rounds, by Misaki Doi and Marta Kostyuk – Osaka has not got tight, neither backing off her shots nor going for too much but maintaining an easy, relaxed balance between dictating play and not allowing her unforced errors to get out of control.

Most top players would have lost to Brady, who continues to dazzle in 2020 and who competed brilliantly in her first Grand Slam semifinal. Osaka not only had the weapons to match Brady shot for shot, but managed to stay creative and positive and was the more consistent player throughout; she also showed no sign of fatigue or fading physically, which could be crucial in the final.

Victoria Azarenka is 0-2 in US Open finals (PA Images)

As well as Azarenka played against Serena Williams, and she did, Williams definitely did fade physically – although Azarenka’s superb tennis did play its role in that, too. A firestorm of first-strike tennis from Williams in the first set passed over Azarenka without damaging her self-belief, and then the Belarusian went to work, elevating her game in the second set. For a player who is fundamentally a counterpuncher, Azarenka does a very credible impression of a power player through absorbing and redirecting her opponent’s pace, refusing to back off from the baseline and taking the ball incredibly early. She also served very, very well; the most vulnerable shot in her arsenal looked rock solid under extreme pressure.

The head-to-head isn’t too helpful in this one. It’s tempting to conclude that if Osaka can beat Azarenka on clay, she can certainly do it on hard courts, a surface on which Osaka is much more comfortable; but Azarenka in 2018-19 was not playing anything like the Azarenka of this fortnight. She’s playing like the Azarenka of 2016, who thumped Osaka 6-1, 6-1; but then Osaka in 2016 was not the player she has become over the past few years. My instinct is that power – offensive, point-ending shots – will generally trump defense, and that Azarenka’s serve will at some point let her down. But Azarenka is playing too well not to make the match a decent length.

Osaka vs Azarenka: Prediction

Victoria Azarenka looks to make her first Grand Slam semifinal in seven years as she takes on Elise Mertens at the US Open.

Azarenka vs Mertens is live from New York on Wednesday 9 September, 7pm local/12am BST

Former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka’s last Grand Slam semifinal appearance came at this same tournament in 2013, when she beat Flavia Pennetta to reach the second of two back-to-back US Open finals. But although Azarenka reached five major quarterfinals in 2014-16, injury, maternity leave and custody battles have all impacted her career, meaning it’s been four years since she’s featured in the last eight at a Grand Slam.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Azarenka has suddenly found vintage form out of nowhere, going from an 0-3 record in 2020 to a nine-match winning streak that took her to the Western & Southern Open title and into the US Open quarterfinals. In Elise Mertens, though, she has an opponent who’s also playing some of her best tennis.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Azarenka vs Mertens: Head-to-head

Victoria Azarenka and Elise Mertens have never played.

Azarenka vs Mertens: Preview

Azarenka secured her place in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time since the 2016 Australian Open after dropping her first set of the tournament. Having come past Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek without dropping a set, Azarenka fell behind 5-7 to Karolina Muchova – a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year and on fine form – and had to dig deep for the first time this US Open. She did just that, stepping up her aggression, attacking the net and doing everything she could to stop Muchova from dominating the match, earning a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory.

The Belarusian is now on a nine-match winning streak and is honestly playing tennis reminiscent of the type that won her two Australian Open titles and saw her play two memorable US Open finals against Serena Williams, who could await in the semifinals if Azarenka can get past Mertens.

Mertens’s run here hasn’t quite got the transformation elements of Azarenka’s, but look at the Belgian’s 2020 season and you see one thing: Consistency, before and after the shutdown. Mertens is 23-8 this year, and has only failed to win back-to-back matches at three of the ten tournaments she’s played.

Elise Mertens is 23-8 in 2020 (PA Images)

Since returning from the six-month hiatus, Mertens is 12-3, having finished runner-up in Prague, made the semifinals of ‘Cincinnati’ and now reached the quarterfinals at the US Open, but until Monday night she had lost to both the top-10 players she had faced during that span and was on an eight-match losing streak against them. Then Mertens faced second seed Sofia Kenin. Although she was 0-2 against the American coming in, Mertens produced a very, very good performance to see off the Australian Open champion 6-3, 6-3, breaking down Kenin’s backhand in a way I didn’t know was possible.

I have never seen Mertens play with such tactical clarity as she has over the past few weeks, and the same tactics which proved so effective against Kenin could also be a winning formula against Azarenka, a similar blend of ‘attacking counterpuncher’. However, Azarenka’s backhand has been on song this entire tournament, and her ability to return down the lines could also prove crucial. Both players are in good enough form, and evenly enough matched, that I think we’re going to see a three-set duel before the winner is decided.

Azarenka vs Mertens: Prediction

An all-Belarusian battle pits fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka against two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka at the US Open for the second year in a row.

Sabalenka vs Azarenka is live from New York on Thursday 3 September, time TBC

Last year at the US Open, Aryna Sabalenka came from a set down to beat compatriot Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 – can Azarenka reverse the result as they meet again in 2020?

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Azarenka, twice a runner-up at the US Open, turned back the clock to her glory days when she won the Western & Southern Open title last week to enter the Grand Slam in red-hot form, while Sabalenka, despite having long supplanted Azarenka as Belarus’s top player, hasn’t been able to string wins together. Who will make the last 32 on Thursday?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Sabalenka vs Azarenka: Head-to-head

Last year’s US Open first-round match was the only time these two have played. Sabalenka won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Sabalenka vs Azarenka: Preview

Aryna Sabalenka has only twice won back-to-back main-draw matches at Grand Slam level – in 2019, when she made the third round of the Australian Open, and the previous summer, when she knocked out Petra Kvitova to make the last 16 at the US Open, only to lose an extremely tight match to Naomi Osaka.

Sabalenka turned out to be the only player who would manage to take a set from the eventual champion at that year’s US Open, and expectations were high for the Belarusian after her brilliant breakthrough year. Backing it up, however, proved difficult, and while Sabalenka won titles in Shenzhen and Wuhan in 2019 she didn’t have any success at Grand Slam level – her win over Azarenka at the US Open was the best she would record, but she lost to Yulia Putintseva in the next round.

US Open Predictions and Betting Tips: Outright winner tips for men’s & women’s singles at the 2020 US Open

After reaching the semifinals in Adelaide in January, Sabalenka’s Australian Open campaign was over before it began when she lost to Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets in the first round, but it seemed like she had just found her feet in 2020 with the Qatar Total Open title when lockdown hit. Since the resumption, Sabalenka hasn’t managed to string two wins together: She went 2-2 in Lexington and ‘Cincinnati’, losing to Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula in respective three-set battle. And she had to work hard to beat Oceane Dodin 7-6(1), 6-4 in the first round.

Victoria Azarenka is a two-time US Open finalist (PA Images)

Azarenka, on the other hand, couldn’t come into the US Open on more unexpectedly good form. The former world no. 1 has endured a trying couple of seasons, battling injury, struggling for wins and continuing to be derailed by circumstances in her personal life; to the point that she admitted she had considered retiring in January. Before the Western & Southern Open, Azarenka had played just two matches in 2020 and lost both in straight sets. But something clicked for her in ‘Cincinnati’, where she beat Donna Vekic, Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet, Ons Jabeur and Johanna Konta (losing just one set in the process) to reach the final, where she claimed her second Western & Southern Open title seven years after the first when she received a walkover from Naomi Osaka.

American hard courts have always been a really strong surface for both Sabalenka and Azarenka; the latter played two memorable US Open finals against Serena Williams in 2012-13. The courts are faster this year, which in theory plays into the more explosive Sabalenka’s hands, but actually faster courts means less time to set up for your shots and might play into Azarenka’s hands: The world no. 59 gave a masterclass in how to smother a first-strike power player in these conditions when she beat Konta in three sets in ‘Cincinnati’. When these two faced off last year, it was Sabalenka’s consistent flat power which eventually got her the win, but Azarenka wasn’t playing, or especially serving, nearly as well at the time as she is now. It should go the distance again, but this time Azarenka will be the one who comes out on top.

Sabalenka vs Azarenka: Prediction

The resurgent Victoria Azarenka aims to capture the second Western & Southern Open title nobody expected as she takes on Naomi Osaka on Saturday.

Osaka vs Azarenka is live from New York on Saturday 29 August, 11am local/4pm BST

The 2018 US Open champion Osaka was always among the favourites to win the Cincinnati-New York Open, even with nobody quite sure what to expect as the bulk of the top players took to the court for the first time following a six-month absence. But nobody expected play to be unprecedently paused at Osaka’s instigation on Thursday – nor the Japanese-Haitian player to be so focused when she returned to play her delayed semifinal against Elise Mertens.

WTA Cincinnati-New York Open: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Western & Southern Open

Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka, a long way off the glory days that saw her beat Serena Williams in the 2013 Cincinnati final, came out of nowhere to put together a resurgent run and give herself a shot at a win which would be massive at this point in her career – can she get it?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Osaka vs Azarenka: Head-to-head

Osaka leads the head-to-head with Azarenka 2-1. Both Osaka’s wins came on clay, while Azarenka won their only hard-court clash, but that match was all the way back in 2016 at the Australian Open.

Victoria Azarenka broke Johanna Konta’s serve five times in the semifinals (PA Images)

Osaka vs Azarenka: Preview

Given how much uncertainty was in the air about how this tournament, relocated from Cincinnati to New York to be played behind closed doors in the midst of a global pandemic, might play out, the conclusion promises to be something of a dream final as Grand Slam champions and former world no. 1s face off.

Osaka has played some great tennis this week after a scrappy start to her first tournament since a miserable Fed Cup defeat to Sara Sorribes Tormo back in February followed the abrupt end to her Australian Open title defense. Against the extremely in-form Anett Kontaveit, Osaka trailed by a set and a break before reeling off a run of games in unplayable form, then dug out a narrow victory.

Then came the events of Thursday, which saw Osaka declare that she would not play her semifinal against Mertens as scheduled. The tournament swiftly responded by pausing all play for the day, and the response was confusion: Had Osaka withdrawn? The player clarified: She had been willing to concede the match to her opponent, but when tournament authorities paused play, she yielded to persuasion to go on competing.

With Osaka’s stand making headlines around the world and igniting predictable debate, it seemed too much to expect that she would be able to focus and produce her best tennis – but that’s just what she did on Friday. Mertens had been in superb form, playing such smart tennis all week to reach the semifinals, and after being outplayed in the first set, she produced it again in the second. The two players exchanged breaks twice before the ninth game found them level at 4-4, with Mertens throwing everything at Osaka in an attempt to break. In a ten-deuce game, Osaka fended off eight break points – mainly by hitting clean winners – to hold for 5-4. Mertens retaliated with a nerveless match-point save at 5-6, then led by a mini-break in the tie-break, two points from pushing the match to a decider. But it was Osaka who won the last three points of the match to get the win 6-2, 7-6(5).

As much as the world no. 10 is an explosive hitter, it was her ability to generate angles and open up the court, especially on the short angle with her backhand, which made the difference today. But one thing that did concern was how tired Osaka appeared to be at the end of the match, perhaps struggling with her legs or back.

Azarenka on the other hand ended her semifinal match looking fresher than when she started. Trounced by Venus Williams in Lexington two weeks ago, Azarenka nevertheless said that she felt she’d found something in the match that had been missing, something mislaid by the former world no. 1 during her lengthy battles with injury and the ugly custody battle that has kept her off tour for huge lengths of time. After wins over Donna Vekic, Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet and Ons Jabeur, Azarenka dropped her first set of the week against Johanna Konta in the semifinals, but as the match wore on, the Azarenka return only got better and she stayed glued to the baseline in vintage Vika style, smothering Konta with depth to run out a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victor.

Based purely on perception, Azarenka looks to me like she has the physical advantage on Saturday. She might need it, because her shotmaking cannot match Osaka for explosiveness or sheer power. But her returning can keep Osaka under constant pressure on serve and break that weapon down like Azarenka did Konta’s, she’ll track everything down and if Osaka is anything less than totally fighting fit and match-ready, Azarenka will expose it.

Osaka vs Azarenka: Prediction

Former Western & Southern Open champion Victoria Azarenka takes on the big-serving Johanna Konta for a place in the Cincinnati-New York final.

Azarenka vs Konta is live from New York on Friday 28 August, time TBC

After the tournament was ‘paused’ on Thursday in response to a fresh outbreak of police violence in the USA, Azarenka and Konta face off for the fourth time in their careers in the second WTA semifinal on Friday 28 August.

WTA Cincinnati-New York Open: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Western & Southern Open

Konta leads the head-to-head 2-1 and has yet to drop a set at the Western & Southern Open, where she has returned from shutdown reinvigorated and seemingly enjoying new collaboration with coach Thomas Hogstedt; while Azarenka has made an unexpected resurgence after almost retiring from the sport altogether in January.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Azarenka vs Konta: Head-to-head

Azarenka and Konta have played three times, with Konta leading the head-to-head 2-1, although her first win over Azarenka came when the latter retired one game into the second set in Wuhan in 2015. Completed matches have been split 1-1, both coming on North American outdoor hard courts and settled in straight sets.

Johanna Konta leads the head-to-head with Victoria Azarenka 2-1 (PA Images)

Azarenka vs Konta: Preview

Former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka was little discussed as a potential champion coming into the Western & Southern Open. Despite being a former winner of the tournament – she beat Serena Williams to claim the title in 2013 – Azarenka was not really expected to be a factor: She had played just two matches in 2020, losing both, as ongoing struggles with injury and in her personal life continued to decimate her career.

In fact, Azarenka admitted this week that she was considering retiring from the sport entirely in January before deciding to give it one more try. Whether or not we will ever see the two-time Grand Slam champion in the top 10 again, that decision has certainly paid off this week with Azarenka winning four matches in a row for the first time since last April. Moreover, she hasn’t dropped a set in victories over 15th seed Donna Vekic, Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet and Ons Jabeur. It hasn’t been the toughest draw – Cornet was 0-6 against Azarenka coming into that one – but it’s still required some exceptional tennis, particularly against Jabeur. The Tunisian is having a career-best season, and her unpredictable tennis is strikingly effective; Azarenka had to really grit her way through, coming back from a break down three times in the first set, then seeing a 6-3 lead in the tie-break vanish as Jabeur came back. Jabeur had four set points before Azarenka converted her fifth to take a 72-minute first set, then dominated the second to win 7-6(9), 6-2.

Konta’s 6-4, 6-3 victory over Maria Sakkari was also more hard-fought than the scoreline suggested, ultimately taking almost as long as Azarenka’s win over Jabeur. Konta, who did not play after her quarterfinal run at the US Open in 2019 and lost her first three matches of 2020, had just found her feet with a Monterrey semifinal run before the sport shut down for six months, and her form at the Battle of the Brits Team Tennis event did not encourage. She also lost her first match back from shutdown in straight sets to Marie Bouzkova in Lexington. But the unusually fast courts in New York this year seem to be suiting the big-serving British player down to the ground: She dropped eight games total in wins over qualifiers Vera Zvonareva and Kirsten Flipkens before avenging last year’s Rabat final defeat to Sakkari.

The Greek player had knocked Serena Williams out with a comeback win in the previous round and she did not go down easily while windy conditions tested Konta’s ability to control the ball. Ultimately, Konta’s big serve on key moments made the difference: Although she was only able to convert three of 12 break points, she saved both those she faced.

Konta’s serve is the cornerstone of her game and if it is firing, she has the advantage. Azarenka is a superb returner, but her struggles to hold her own serve automatically put her on the back foot and being broken three times in one set by Jabeur doesn’t seem to bode too well for a meeting with Konta.

Azarenka vs Konta: Prediction