Saturday, 23 January 2016

Vika as predicted

Vika is doing pretty much as she pleases and today she plays Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka, ranked 127.  Should be a task completed within the hour.

Azarenka, two time Aus Open champ began serving and received a forehand winner from Naomi as a welcome gift.  A double fault and 0-30. Three break points with a forehand pushed wide.  The break to love with a repeated forehand mistake from a very rusty Vika. 1-0 Osaka.

0-30 thanks to unforced errors. A Vika forehand crosscourt winner presented two break points, one saved, but not the second.  Games on serve 1-1

Vika began to settle and her forehand crested some damage.  She held comfortably and then shot down the Japanese serve with relentless running and variety of shot making, the forehand a huge weapon amongst many, winners flowing now.  3-1 Azarenka.

Better defence from Naomi in the next service game from Vika and she pushed the fourteenth seed to deuce with excellent retrieval, that of which even Vika would have been proud.  Inevitably the class rules and Vika claimed the game rolling out to 4-1.

More winners and another break point for Azarenka, but the net cord to convert the break was stiff luck for Osaka, and Azarenka was serving for the set at 5-1.

The job was done with a minimum of fuss and after taking the first set 6-1, Azarenka immediately broke serve and held her own to complete a run of eight straight games. Osaka was still doing many things right but Azarenka had moved through several gears and was travelling near the top of her game.

Osaka displayed her potential in the third and fourth games where she initially held serve and had break point on the Azarenka serve which would, if converted, have levelled the set at 2-2.  Vika was mean though and she held her serve to remain ahead 3-1.

After that the foot was really put down and top gear employed.  Winners scattered already over the arena were joined in multiples and Vika forced Osaka to parts of the court which I'm sure hadn't been traversed previously. Another break of serve was achieved despite Osaka looking in position to hold.  Vika ultimately served to a 5-1 lead and Naomi needed to hold a now fragile serve in order for the match to continue beyond what we had seen so far.

Azarenka was not going to allow another game to be credited against her and won by breaking a final time and won the match 6-1 6-1.

The resolve of Vika Azarenka is well known and should never be underestimated.  It wasn't today, and although well beaten the eighteen year old Osaka is clearly someone for the future given her work ethic.

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