Sun, 03 Dec 2023

Vintage Victoria Azarenka too much for Jessica Pegula in Australia

Field Level Media
25 Jan 2023, 01:40 GMT+10

Victoria Azarenka eliminated Jessica Pegula, the top remaining seed in the women's singles draw, in a straight sets win on Tuesday to return to the Australian Open semifinals for the first time since 2013.

Azarenka, a two-time winner of this Grand Slam, won 67 percent of her first serves and won 36 points on serves receive to win the match in 1 hour, 33 minutes.

Pegula, the third-seeded American, however remains in contention for a doubles title along with Coco Gauff.

"It helps that I'm playing doubles (Wednesday) because I don't have so much time to sulk around and be in my feelings," the 28-year-old Pegula said. "I'm going to be pretty pissed about my match. But (doubles) is another chance to get another win, get a better feeling, and be in a competitive mindset."

It was a throwback effort from Azarenka, 33, who won her second title in Australia in 2013 and is in a Grand Slam semifinal for the ninth time. The Belarus native faces reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina on Wednesday.

Azarenka said she's trying to stay in the moment and not look ahead to a spot in the finals. In 2013 she prevailed but questions about her lengthy medical timeout and cheating accusations triggered a decade of anxiety in competition, she said Tuesday.

"I don't really want to take my mind there," Azarenka said. "I just really want to focus on something that works for me, that keeps me focused, that keeps me calm, keeps me at peace. I think that is a very important part for me, to be at peace."

Rybakina, who is seeded 22nd in the tournament and represents Kazakhstan, mowed down Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4, in one hour, 19 minutes to return to the semifinals. She leads the women's draw with 35 aces in the 2023 Australian Open and eliminated No. 1 Iga Swiatek in straight sets.

"I gained even more power. It's my weapon on the court and of course we are trying to work on it. Always a lot to improve," she said.

--Field Level Media

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