In an interview with AFP before the tournament began, Azarenka called Serena Williams the best player ever, though she clarified that she can only judge players from her era when making such a declaration. She also said that despite losing to Serena in the finals of the US Open, she is closing the gap on the American superstar.
“Serena is playing the best tennis of her life and so am I,” Azarenka told AFP.
“It’s been really noticeable the gap from last year we have in the matches has minimised. I’ve beaten her twice this year. No one else has done that.
“It’s just exciting to be in the era of somebody and competing with somebody who is considered the best ever and being their toughest opponent.”
Azarenka probably is Serena’s best competition right now, though Sloane Stephens beat Williams too and will surpass her eventually. And we all know where Maria Sharapova falls in this discussion.
Serena has only lost four times this year, with two of the losses coming to Azarenka. One win came in Qatar early in the year, and the other was in Cincinnati before the US Open. Both wins were in the finals, so that is definitely a strong sign as Azarenka says.
Azarenka is 3-13 against Williams all time and 0-8 against her in grand slams. But she might be right that she is closing the gap; she went 2-3 against her this year after going 1-10 previously. The big difference is she needs to finally beat Serena in a grand slam. Now, if she could only figure out how to beat Venus …