The end of a two-and-a-half year title drought beckons for Victoria Azarenka if she can continue her career dominance over Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the Brisbane International women’s final on Saturday.
But the rejuvenated former world No.1 is keeping her mind on the task at hand, and not dreaming of what a first piece of WTA silverware would do for her confidence as she looks to force her way back into the elite bracket this season.
Azarenka has pounced as the top three seeds in Brisbane all either withdrew or retired from the tournament due to injury, with her run to the final ensuring she will receive a valuable top 16 seeding at the Australian Open.
After smashing American qualifier Samantha Crawford in straight sets on Friday night at Pat Rafter Arena, the Belarusian looks cherry ripe for the first grand slam of the year, which begins in just nine days.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now. I’m not saying anything besides that,” said Azarenka, a two-time winner in Melbourne and the current world No.22.
“It’s irrelevant. (The final) is a match. I’m looking forward to that. I never jump ahead.
“It can seem so close, yet so far. I’ve done those mistakes before, and I’ll stick to being in the present.”
Azarenka, 26, has won all five of her matches against Kerber, who beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3 in her semi-final.
Their most famous and most recent was last year’s memorable three-set classic at the US Open, seen by many as the best match of 2015.
“We played a great match in New York. Against her for sure it will be a tough match,” said Kerber, the highest remaining seed in the absence of Maria Sharapova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.
“I came here to have a lot of matches. Right now I’m in the final, so that’s not bad.
“When you start the season you don’t know exactly where you’re standing. I can just say that I’m feeling good.”
Kerber and Azarenka will square off again at 7.30pm AEDT in Brisbane, with both men’s semi-finals – Roger Federer against Dominic Thiem and Bernard Tomic versus Milos Raonic – to be played earlier in the day.