(Reuters) - A look at the key facts and records of Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka before their U.S. Open final on Saturday (prefix number denotes seeding):
WTA ranking: 9 (Highest ranking: 1)
Grand Slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2019; U.S. Open 2018)
Career WTA titles: 5
2019 U.S. Open performance: Fourth round
Best U.S. Open performance: Winner (2018)
ROAD TO FINAL
First round: Misaki Doi (Japan) 6-2 5-7 6-2
Second round: Camila Giorgi (Italy) 6-1 6-2
Third round: Marta Kostyuk (Ukraine) 6-3 6-7(4) 6-2
Fourth round: 14-Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) 6-3 6-4
Quarter-finals: Shelby Rogers (U.S.) 6-3 6-4
Semi-finals: 28-Jennifer Brady (U.S.) 7-6(1) 3-6 6-3
The Japanese former champion, like her opponent Azarenka, has an unbeaten record since tennis resumed after the novel coronavirus shutdown and goes into her third Grand Slam final for a shot at a second title at Flushing Meadows.
Osaka, who has shown her anti-racism activism through different facemasks in each match, faces a test of mental strength against a revitalised Azarenka, who stunned third seed Serena Williams with a come-from-behind semi-final victory.
WTA ranking: 27 (Highest ranking: 1)
Grand Slam titles: 2 (Australian Open 2012, 2013)
Career WTA titles: 21
2019 U.S. Open performance: First round
Best U.S. Open performance: Runner-up (2012, 2013)
ROAD TO FINAL
First round: Barbara Haas (Austria) 6-1 6-2
Second round: 5-Aryna Sabalenka (Belarus) 6-1 6-3
Third round: Iga Swiatek (Poland) 6-4 6-2
Fourth round: 20-Karolina Muchova (Czech Republic) 5-7 6-1 6-4
Quarter-finals: 16-Elise Mertens (Belgium) 6-1 6-0
Semi-finals: 3-Serena Williams (U.S.) 1-6 6-3 6-3
After a journey of setbacks and challenges, the 31-year-old Azarenka is back in a Grand Slam final following a seven-year absence from the showpiece match at a major.
The unseeded Belarusian, who was not widely considered among the contenders for the top prize, will look to add another title to her tally after her success at the Western & Southern Open last month -- Azarenka’s first title in four years.
HEAD TO HEAD: Osaka leads 2-1
2019 Osaka d Azarenka 4-6 7-5 6-3 (French Open, clay)
2018 Osaka d Azarenka 6-0 6-3 (Rome, clay)
2016 Azarenka d Osaka 6-1 6-1 (Australian Open, hard)
Compiled by Manasi Pathak in Chennai; Editing by Ken Ferris
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