Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Azarenka looking likely again

The final day session fourth round women's singles match on Rod Laver Arena was between Victoria Azarenka, who with the exit of Williams and Sharapova, was looking a stronger chance of winning her third successive crown, and Sloane Stephens from the USA, seeded 13.
Some were critical of Vika last year when the two played in a semi final here, in that the medical time out taken by her was timed purely to stop momentum which the American had.  Whatever, the result would have been the same.

This year, Azarenka began with a double fault, then littered the place with winners of all kind, to lead 1-0.  A Stephens forehand winner closed out her first service game and scores were 1-1.
Problems set in when Stephens served a second time and some careless shot making introduced 3 break points to Azarenka, one of which was saved.  Vika used the second wisely and stung the American to lead 3-1.
Two double faults in the next game had Azarenka needing to save a break point - that was done , and serve held, but the double faults issue still had to be addressed or it could eventually hurt her on the scoreboard.
1-4 could easily have been 1-5 as Sloane Stephens fought through the longest game of the match so far.  Five times taken to deuce, six break points saved, and finally Stephens was sick of all the uncertainty and belted successive winners off either wing to retain serve.
The match became truly physical in the seventh game when Stephens accidentally hit Azarenka with the ball while she was standing at the net.  An apology was offered probably without any sincerity but it wouldn't have mattered because Vika ignored it.  However she did return the favour later in the game by belting the ball directly at Stephens.  Not even an small attempt at apology.
Azarenka held serve by the way to lead 5-2, and when Stephens did the same for 3-5, the reigning champ was in prime position to serve for the set.
Vika could not leave the first set without throwing in another double fault for old times sake, but it did not waver her.  She proceeded to win the game and set 6-3.

The Stephens position worsened appreciably and quickly, with her being broken in the first game of set, and unable to touch the Azarenka delivery.  Down 2-0 there appeared no coming back from this for Stephens.  Azarenka was serving so well that being broken was unlikely, while Stephens was facing break points with every excursion to the line.
On one of those trips she did trip up - she was trailing 2-4, and Azarenka with a backhand to open and forehand to close, made it 2-5 with the Belarus number two seed now serving for a quarter final berth.

Victoria Azarenka easily defeated Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-2

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