Friday, 17 January 2014

Vika victorious

Victoria Azarenka, the 2 time defending champion, had her first 2014 sojourn at night with her second round match against the Czech Republic's 84th ranked Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Vika struggled more than normal in her first match, but still did enough to suggest she poses the greatest threat to Serena for the title.   Barbora took 3 sets to advance to round 2, and would need a good start here.

Azarenka eventually won the opening game on her serve, but not before providing Barbora with glimmers of hope.  One thing we learnt from the game was that tennis ball rights campaigners would be protesting the next morning about alleged cruelty to the unarmed ball in this contest.

Both players hit like there was no tomorrow, and time would tell whether or not Barbora's risk of error was greater because of her hard hitting.
Vika's forehands caused some problems but not enough to derail the serve of Barbora and games were 1-1.
Vika volleyed well to hold and lead 2-1 before gritting her teeth and doing everything possible to ensure a break of serve in the fourth game. The only thing that hadn't gone well was her overhead, but it cost her nothing.

The relentless accurate groundstrokes from the number two seed wore away at the patience of Barbora and she could not achieve a break back.  Vika was after still more blood, and she received it with a third break for 5-1.  

Incredibly, Vika was successfully hitting a first serve almost all the time whilst her opponent was struggling to find the service box on half the occasions.  Even when she was accurate with her first attempt,  the percentage of those points won was way below Vika's.
The ride was all one way and too fast to contain as Azarenka clinically served out the first set 6-1.

The second set did not promise any better tidings for Barbora once Vika savaged the inadequate serve to lead 1-0 with a break.
Apparently down for the count, the Czech player revived herself, jumped up from the canvas and proceeded, with Vika, to play the best tennis of the match, and some of the better tennis of the tournament in the next six or seven games.

Vika maintained a service break, but the tennis she had to play defending the break was of a far greater standard now that Barbora was demanding it of her.  At 2-3 down with Vika's serve to come, but after serving a love game, Barbora was at the height of her confidence.  The break back of serve for 3-3 was unexpected but welcome.

Then as if it was the new craze, the 2 traded successive breaks for 4-4 with Barbora to serve.  The standard was high through this.

The ninth game though was the clincher, and Vika dug into the depths of her experience to find a method of crushing the will of her opponent.
Despite great efforts to stay in the match, Barbora had given Vika too many chances from the start, and this latest one was fatal.  The break of serve came, then Vika served it out to win 6-1 6-4.

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