Australian Open Stat Attack: Back Azarenka for first Slam

Ben Caudell uses the stats to make a strong case for a first Grand Slam triumph for Victoria Azarenka...

*Five Reasons to Back Victoria Azarenka -2.5 Games @ approx 2.206/5

The first Grand Slam final of the year begins at 08:30am UK time. Victoria Azarenka is vying for her maiden Grand Slam tournament win against the experienced Maria Sharapova, last year's Wimbledon finalist, and holder of three Grand Slam titles, including the 2008 Australian Open. With a lot at stake - both players have the chance to become world number one - I'm tempted to side with Azarenka to break her Grand Slam duck.

• With a head-to-head series between the pair tied at 3-3, Azarenaka will be buoyed by the knowledge that she has wins over the Russian from their last two hard court matches, both in straight sets (Miami 2011 6-1 6-4, Stanford 2010 6-4 6-1). It is also important to note that both these wins came in finals.

• The Belarusian has managed to reach a total of 20 finals during her promising career with a record of 50% wins. Although Maria has won a total of 25 tournament finals from 38, equating to a 65.8% win record, the career ROI in finals for Azarenka is a far superior +15% compared with -34% for Sharapova (ROI is the Earnings, Return on Investment or 'Profit on Turnover').

• Azarenka comes into her debut Grand Slam final with unbelievable form on the hard-courts, winning 11 in a row; she's also won 11 consecutive matches in Australia, six in a row at the Australian Open, and four in a row against top ten ranked players.

• Twenty-two-year-old Azarenka 1.84/5 deserves her title as the favourite to win today. She holds a superior Surface Rating, Ranking, Match Rating (Match Ratings assess form specific to the current tournament conditions and the opposing player Match Ratings take H2H's into account) and a 82% Predicted Chance of winning.

• Not only has she won 16 of her last 20 one matches by more than the current handicap line of -2.5 games, she also has holds greater tournament stats on first serve points won, second serve points won and total break points won.

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