Quarterfinals are set in Miami, with Victoria Azarenka vs. Marion Bartoli, Venus Williams vs. Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena Williams vs. Caroline Wozniacki, and Li Na vs. Maria Sharapova.
The most notable match defining a quarterfinalist was between world No.1 Victoria Azarenka and Slovakian power, seed No.16, Dominika Cibulkova. Azarenka came to the fourth round with a 25-0 winning streak this year and Cibulkova fearlessly looked in the eyes the best women’s start to a season in 15 years, racing to a 6-1 4-0 lead. Azarenka recovered from the deficit and stayed in the match after the second set tiebreak. The switch of the score didn’t discourage Cibulkova and she continued to impose her fiery line-hitting groundstrokes in the relatively even third set. But Azarenka made a decisive push, breaking at 5-all and then serving it out for a 1-6 7-6(7) 7-5 victory.
Overall, the match featured 15 breaks of serve! Another stunning stat is that Cibulkova hit 45 winners, far more than Azarenka’s 15, but of course, her number of unforced errors was also much greater. Last year, en route to the Miami title, Azarenka also overcame a deficit, 6-3 3-1, to beat Cibulkova in the round of 32. Next up for Azarenka is seed No.7 Marion Bartoli, who eased past Maria Kirilenko 6-1 6-2.
As for other quarterfinalists, Venus Williams earned her 602nd career victory in her third straight three-setter, overcoming Ana Ivanovic 6-7(4) 6-2 6-2, while her next opponent, Agnieszka Radwanska, didn’t take long to beat Garbine Muguruza Blanco, 6-3 6-2. Serena Williams hit an astonishing 20 aces to defeat Samantha Stosur 7-5 6-3, while her next opponent, Caroline Wozniacki, downed Yanina Wickmayer 7-6(6) 6-0. Li Na rallied past Sabine Lisicki 3-6 6-4 6-2, and Maria Sharapova overcame plentiful errors to get past Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 7-6(3). (photo: © Neal Trousdale)
I wasn’t really planning to watch this match, because of Azarenka’s screams, but when I saw 6:1, 4:0, I was like “no way, I HAVE to see this” 😉 Congrats to Vika for her mental toughness, that she persevered and eventually won. At the beginning she wasn’t really there – she was terribly lacking in precision, her shots were about as precise as mine (meaning: the ball fly in every possible direction, but certainly not were I want it to go!). And Cibulkova really impressed me. One thing that she desperately needs: good service. There was like 5:3 in second set and it was her service and she had a chance to end it… and she basically gave the next game to Azarenka (2 double faults!). Well, that was really dramatic match, something nice to see, after all those 6:1, 6:2 we were getting recently 😉
Oh, well, how hard is it to be mentally tough when ones opponent is choking to death? True mental toughness means, first of all, being able to control oneself and not fall into spoiled-little-brat-tantrums when things are not going ones way – as the audience there clearly showed by loud booing reactions.