Victoria Azarenka and Maria Kirilenko clashed in the 2010 Kremlin Cup final.


The Setting
 

With a place in the year-end championships on the line, the young Belarussian Victoria Azarenka played the final week of the 2010 season at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Seeded second at the event, Azarenka clinched her berth at the WTA finals with a victory in her opening match. She didn’t stop there, though, as she proceeded to advance to the final—her fourth of the year—with the loss of only one set.

In the championship match, she’d face Maria Kirilenko of Russia. The sixth seed—whose path to the final was eased along by the loss of Jelena Jankovic and Li Na, the first and third seeds, respectively—dominated throughout the week, only dropping nine games in four matches. It was Kirilenko’s first final in more than a year.

The Final
 

The first two encounters between the two several years earlier were three-set affairs taken by Azarenka. However, Kirilenko had won their latest match over the summer in Canada in straight sets. Out to set the tone immediately and put that defeat behind her, Azarenka broke Kirilenko’s serve to open the match. However, the Russian managed to recover, leveling the set at two games apiece, but as soon as she got back on even ground, Azarenka broke again to go up 3-2. When Kirilenko served down 3-5, Azarenka struck a backhand winner at double set point to clinch the opener.

In the second set, buoyed by the home crowd, Kirilenko stormed out to a 4-0 lead. In the sixth game, though, Azarenka began to claw her way back into the match, getting one break back to make it 4-2. With her own confidence rising as Kirilenko’s level of play came down, Azarenka earned a match point on Kirilenko’s serve at 4-5. After a solid baseline rally, Azarenka put away a forehand volley to clinch the title, her second of the year.

Notable Numbers
 

2

Prior to this year, Azarenka had only produced two wins in her career at the tournament in two previous appearances.

5

Kirilenko’s loss in the final was the fifth by a Russian woman since the tournament’s start against four wins. Anastasia Myskina was responsible for two of the victories as she won in 2003 and 2004.

7

This was Azarenka’s seventh singles final since the start of 2009 and her record in those matches improved to 5-2. She started off her career with an 0-4 ledger in championship bouts.

Follow Van on Twitter: @Van_Sias