By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 23, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka kept her title defense on track on Wednesday at Melbourne Park, progressing to the semifinals of the Australian Open with a 7-5 6-1 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.
It was an enthralling encounter between the world No. 1 and the two-time grand slam champion as they went toe for toe in the 77 minute opening set. Kuznetsova got her nose in front early to lead 4-1 before Azarenka charged back and was able to break Kuznetsova on set point to go up one set 7-5.
The second set began with the women swapping breaks in the first three games before Azarenka got a stranglehold in the fourth game by consolidating the second break to lead 3-1. From there she made very few unforced errors and raced to victory 7-5 6-1.
“I feel like at the beginning it was a little bit like play around, you know, a lot of back and forth. I think we were both producing, you know, good tennis, but I felt like she was a little bit on top of me on the important moments. I didn’t really take advantage of that, and she really did. So I felt like that was the main thing that she got that lead.”
“Then I turned it around and I took control in my hands and it was more up to me. That’s what I felt like was a turning point mentally and physically, you know, and everything else there.”
The match today was a good test for the world No. 1 heading into the semifinals.
“Yeah, I think you cannot expect to have your best tennis on every single point, on every single game. But it’s important to know that when you need it, it’s there and you can rely on that. That’s what gives you, you know, confidence. That’s what keeps you fighting all the time, that you just have to try and try and try. “
Azarenka progresses through to the semifinals where she will play Sloane Stephens who upset Serena Williams.
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.