Monday, 25 January 2016

Azarenka continues to fly

Vika Azarenka has played to her lead up form for the first three rounds and her opponent Barbora Strycova is also in fine touch, her upset win over 3rd seed Muguruza evidence of that.

Today would be harder - Azarenka's Melbourne Park pedigree is difficult to match.  However this should be the first real test for the Belarusian.

Strycova served first.  Strong serving did not allow for the renowned return of Vika to be displayed, especially the two aces.  1-0 Strycova.  Vika had no bother holding serve, and was able to compete in more rallies on the next Barbora serve, creating three break points.  One was saved but the deep ground strokes were still going to cause concern for the Czech player as the match wore on.  Both remaining break points disappeared but another arrived.  Surprisingly Vika netted a forehand.  A great forehand winner from Barbora gave her game point which she converted and led 2-1.

Vika played all court tennis how it should and won her service easily for 2-2.  Two loose forehands from Barbora gave Vika a break point, and a netted backhand donated the game to the fourteenth seed who inherited the lead 3-2.

The scream factor with Vika is far less than Maria and while unacceptable can be withstood because of its consistency.  Maria's is louder and increases at critical times.

The tennis from Vika increased in quality.  A backhand for 30-0 was scintillating.  Her overall game began to impose itself on Barbora, and the effect was clear.  The freedom of shot making was slightly suppressed even though she was winning her fair share of points.  A backhand brought up break point which was saved.  The next break chance was pounced on with a backhand sneaked down the line.

5-2 to Vika and serving for the set.  No worries on serve and the fourteenth seed was half way to the quarter finals. 6-2.

Strycova held well to lead 1-0 in the second set.  After drawing a couple of errors from Azarenka, an annoyed Belarusian replied with excellent racquet work to hold serve for 1-1.  Misses from both sides from Azarenka gave Strycova game points, the second of which she took advantage to lead 2-1.

A winning forehand and 30-0 for Azarenka and one from Strycova forcing Azarenka wide 39-15. Game points following a netted Strycova forehand, one saved via a Strycova backhand, the game won with a backhand of the Azarenka version. 2-2

Strycova was meeting many of the Azarenka challenges this set, and she unfortunately double faulted for 30-30.  Luckily Azarenka missed an opportunity by not missing the net, then a great half volley won the game, keeping Strycova ahead 3-2.

Brilliance at the net by Strycova with a volley winner saw 30-30, replied by a sweet backhand pass by Azarenka.  Game to Azarenka and 3-3.  Azarenka simply ran Strycova all round the court and brought up a break point. A driving forehand off an inadequate drop shot sealed the break and Azarenka was a big step closer to a quarter final leading 4-3.

A wild forehand from Strycova and 15-0. An amazing backhand on top of brilliant retrieving from Strycova made it 15-15.  A wide backhand from Azarenka and 15-30.  Azarenka's clever volley steadied her at 30-30.  Unsteady after a rare double fault and a break point occurred following an unforced error.  That came and went but another arrived with a Czech forehand winner down the line.
Azarenka saved it with a forehand winner.  A sizzling backhand from Belarus and game point to Azarenka.  Another one and the lead was 5-3.

Lovely volley by Strycova at the net for 15-0.  A forehand down the line was exquisite from Strycova and not so the double fault which followed 30-15. A wild forehand from Strycova made it 30-30 but she helped things with a volley smash combination.  A backhand setting up a simple volley winner won the game for Strycova.  5-4 to Azarenka and she would serve for the match.

Backhand winner from Azarenka down the line 15-0.  Strycova hitting long and 30-0.  Strycova still striving with backhand winner crosscourt in front of Azarenka's eyes. A forehand long from Strycova gave two match points to the 14th seed.

A netted Czech backhand was the final point and Vika Azarenka won 6-2 6-4.  The scoreline doesn't reflect the closeness of a high standard match.

Azarenka has never lost to Angelique Kerber and they will meet in a quarter final.

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