Vintage Azarenka beats Pegula to return to Australian Open semifinals


Ten years after her most recent Australian Open semifinal, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka is back into the final four with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Jessica Pegula.

Victoria Azarenka

Entering the match, the third-seeded Pegula was a slight favorite as she had dropped just 18 games en route to the quarterfinals and spent far less time on court than Azarenka who even fought past 2 a.m. to battle past Zhu Lin in the fourth round. Still, vintage Vika prevented the American from advancing to her first Grand Slam semifinal.

After starting out with a 3-0 lead, Azarenka was constantly endangered as five of the next six games included deuces. When Azarenka was serving for the first set at 5-3 40-15, Pegula recorded a break that hinted her recovery was possible. The 24th-seeded Belarusian quickly ruined her hopes with a dominant break as Pegula was looking to level to 5-5. Early in the second set, Pegula once again earned a break back, but failed to consolidate and level to 2-2 as Azarenka won the final four games in the match.

The 2012 and 2013 Australian Open winner Azarenka will face reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the semifinals at Melbourne Park. Earlier on Tuesday, Rybakina eased past Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-4.

Azarenka and Rybakina have faced each other once, in the BNP Paribas Open third round last year, and the Kazakh WTA player won in straight sets.

The other two women’s singles quarterfinals are scheduled for Wednesday: Karolina Pliskova vs. Magda Linette and Aryna Sabalenka vs. Donna Vekic.


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