After a thrilling week in Rome, Abelson Info preview Sunday's final which will see Serena Williams take on Victoria Azarenka...
"Back the number three seed to put up a valiant fight, but ultimately it looks as though it will be yet another title for the American"
Following her success in Madrid last week, Serena Williams was installed as the favourite for this tournament. The American world number one has duly delivered thus far and is now just one game away from completing the job.
Williams continued her stunning form in the semi-finals, with a comprehensive win over Romanian qualifier Simona Halep.
Having put up a spirited effort in the first set, Halep became the first player to take more than two games off Serena in a set so far in Rome. However, Williams blasted her way home and rattled off six consecutive games thereafter in the second set to book her place in the final.
That win made it 23 consecutive victories, the longest winning run of her career, and extends her dominance on clay with the French Open rapidly approaching.
Williams has dropped just ten games in her four matches at the Foro Italico this week, and it will undoubtedly take a monumental effort to deny her glory and back-to-back tournament triumphs.
Standing in her way is world number three Victoria Azarenka, who overcame home favourite Sara Errani in the other semi-final on Saturday.
The Belarusian made short work of her opponent despite a draining win in the last eight over Sam Stosur. That has arguably been her biggest test in the Italian capital, and she will require all her battling qualities to be able to compete with her next rival.
The pair have met 13 times over the last five years, and unfortunately for Azarenka the head-to-head record doesn't make for good viewing. She trails her opponent 11-2 overall, but will be buoyed by her win the last time these two met which was in Doha earlier this year.
In terms of history on clay, they have only met once which was in the final in Madrid last year, with Williams victorious in straight sets.
Form, both current and past, suggest that Azarenka is in for a horrid afternoon's work. She has taken Serena the distance on just three occasions, and considering the way Williams is hitting the ball right now, it is difficult to see how Azarenka can find a way to beat her.
Back the number three seed to put up a valiant fight, but ultimately it looks as though it will be yet another title for the American.