Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka are preparing to meet in the 2020 US Open final in what promises to be an intriguing match-up - a fortnight after their Western and Southern Open final was cancelled due to the Japanese star's injury.

22-year-old Osaka is one of the most exciting names in the sport and recently became the highest paid female athlete in history.

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Azarenka, almost a decade older, is in the twilight of her career and plays her first final since 2013 - after taking time out to give birth to her son Leo.

But both of them have spent the last few years working on their mentality, a process that for each can be traced back to their previous US Open finals.

Osaka's meteoric rise began after she sank Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final, but the Japanese cut a more reserved figure back then. As Williams felt aggrieved by decisions made against her during the final, Osaka looked overwhelmed by the occasion of beating her idol and was in tears as she collected her trophy.

Two years later and Osaka is an icon herself as her activism during this year's tournament has made headlines.

The story of Osaka's masks at US Open to highlight racial injustice

And on returning to the scene of her 2018 triumph, Osaka said:

"I would say, hmm, mentally I feel stronger. I feel fitter now.

I feel like definitely I've been getting more confident in myself. I feel like all these matches apply to each other. I know that, you know, once it gets to a third set, as long as I stay calm, the outcome could go in my favour."

A shy, inexperienced Osaka was able to beat Williams. A confident one is a more frightening prospect and that's what makes her favourite.

Azarenka, however, had to take a different path, and admits her ego took a hit after losing the 2012 and 2013 US Open finals.

She said: "I think when you're coming up from kind of nothing, then you become a number one player in the world, sometimes you can start to think you're invincible and that you're better than everybody, and it's not true. So the ego starts to grow. It's very hurtful when it gets damaged, so...

Instead of getting the ego damaged, I tried to remove that and learn from my mistakes of that ego, and realizing, maturing, that being a tennis player doesn't make you better or worse than anybody else, that you're still human, and all you can do is try to be the best version of yourself and keep improving."

Osaka is not yet at the peak of her powers, while Azarenka has found her form again. Osaka is finding her feet as one of tennis' biggest stars while Azarenka has tempered her own expectations.

But the work they've done has helped them both to the highest level at Flushing Meadows. That's why this final is so difficult to call, and what makes it such an enticing prospect.

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