Melbourne [Australia], January 24 (ANI): Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka stormed into the semifinals after a 10-year gap, defeating No.3 seed Jessica Pegula here at Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday.
The two-time Australian Open champion produced a stunning performance to book a place in the semifinals, beating Pegula 6-4, 6-1 in a match that lasted for one hour and 37 minutes. Azarenka will next face Elena Rybakina in Thursday’s semifinals. Pegula is deceptively powerful with her first strike but also deceptively quick when counterpunching is required.
Despite the scoreline, Azarenka found the game’s flow to be everything but simple. After she leaped out to a quick 3-0 lead, five of the next six games were tight deuce tussles as Pegula kept threatening to make her way back. Pegula saved two double-set points to trim Azarenka’s advantage from 5-2 to 5-4 after fending off six points to fall behind a 4-0 double break. Two of those saves involved unreturned serves, while the following two involved outright victories.
Azarenka, though, stopped the set’s momentum swing with some excellent volleying on Pegula’s serve and earned her fifth set point when another forehand from her rival went long. “I will say she plays quite simple, which is I would say is a compliment. It’s quite easy to be flashy. Not easy, but it’s easier to just go overboard. But to have that consistency and simplicity …” WTA.com quoted Azarenka saying.
“My tennis wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t really mentally there.
I played with a lot of fear, and a lot of anxiety. It really was difficult to be brave and to make the right choices on the court in important moments when you feel anxious and hesitant,” Azarenka said in her on-court interview.
“I worked a lot on my mindset, challenging myself on things I wouldn’t do before. When you achieve great success, sometimes you become conservative and hesitant to try new things. I was like, ‘You know what, I’ll be open-minded, try new things, keep my head down and work,” she added.