Victoria Azarenka ended the run of upstart American Sloane Stephens and is now one win away from defending her Australian Open title. Her opponent in the women's final will be Li Na, who defeated Maria Sharapova with surprising ease in the semifinals.
Although it's not the titanic encounter between Sharapova and Serena Williams like many tennis fans were expecting when the season's first major began, Azarenka and Li are both worthy of their spots in the championship round. It should be an extremely competitive match.
There are no shortage of storylines heading into the Aussie Open final. Here's a list of all of the important viewing information for the match, followed by a look at some of those intriguing subplots as Azarenka and Li prepare to battle.
Where: Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia
When: Saturday, Jan. 26 at 3 a.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Azarenka and Li combined to drop just one set en route to the final. Not only does that illustrate how dominant they were in the first six rounds, but it should foreshadow a terrific encounter as neither player is going to give an inch.
It will be interesting to see how the top seed responds after some issues against Stephens. Azarenka openly admitted after the match that she was having some anxiety problems trying to close out the American to the point where it felt like a heart attack, according to ESPN.
"I couldn't breathe. I had chest pains," she said. "It was like I was getting a heart attack.
"After that it wasn't my best, but it's important to overcome this little bit of a struggle and win the match."
If she had issues while up a set and just one game away from the final, how will she react to what should be a far more competitive match for the title? She must make the necessary mental adjustments to make sure her emotions remain in check.
Azarenka holds a 5-4 advantage in nine previous meetings with Li, including wins in their last four encounters. But they haven't faced each other in a major since two years ago at the Australian Open, a match which was won by Li in straight sets.
If Li wins the trophy, nobody will be able to say she didn't earn in. Her draw was brutal, which makes her run to the final all the more impressive.
Over the last four rounds she's knocked off Sorana Cirstea, Julia Goerges, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sharapova. All ranked players, and the last two being seeded inside the top five. And she did it all without dropping a set.
By comparison, Stephens was the first seeded player Azarenka faced. She did knock off some pesky veterans in Elena Vesnina and Svetlana Kuznetsova, but nobody on the same level as Radwanska or Sharapova.
The key to the match is controlling the points. Both players will want to play the role of the aggressor, but only one will be able to seize it. Li was able to do it against Sharapova, striking more winners than her Russian counterpart, and that's why she won in straight sets.
While Azarenka has a higher ceiling in terms of her level of play, Li is more consistent and reliable. The 2011 French Open champion should expect a tougher challenge than she's received so far, but she's prepared for it.
Given her issues against Stephens, the same can't be said with any confidence about Azarenka. In a match that goes the distance, Li should emerge with her second career Grand Slam title.
Li Na in three sets
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!