By Ros Satar
(June 3, 2013) PARIS – It started as a baseline battle for the former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, and ended up as easy as a walk along the Champs Élysées, as the third seed reeled off 7 games in a row to win 6-3, 6-0 over Francesca Schiavone.
Conditions were cloudy and breezy on court today with Azarenka opting to stay warm with leggings on throughout the match.
Things started promisingly for the Belarusian with an early break in the third game, but that was then the start of a bit of a break-fest.
The women traded 5 successive breaks in a row, before Azarenka managed a hold, and it was to be the start of her run of games to the end.
Schiavone at times seemed to be struggling with her serve, stuttering her feet as if to try and catch up with a wandering ball toss.
It was a costly shuffle, with a couple of foot-faults which hardly helped her cause today.
At her post match conference, Schiavone acknowledged that a good serve was very important today, but that it had not been the contributing factor.
“She [Azarenka] has an intensity & high level for an hour and a half, and I had [it] for [a] shorter time.
“I have to be used to keep going that way, and I think that was the key.”
Azarenka gave credit to her opponent, despite such a dominating win.
She said: “It was definitely a very good challenge for me to play against Francesca, especially knowing how well she’s done here in the past.
“I’m glad with the way I played today.
“I just always try to take it one at a time, and I know the next match will have nothing to do with what happened today.”
She felt that she was finally learning what she needed to do to improve on the surface.
“I understand that it’s not about the game that you really have to adjust. It’s about your movement.
“You have to not only think of how you move left to right but how you come [with] small steps to the ball.
Azarenka reaches her third quarter-final, having reached it twice before in 2009 and 2011.
Azarenka has never progressed further than the QF in 7 years.
She concluded: “I’m excited, you know, definitely that all the preparation I have been doing is doing well.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity to take that step.”
Azarenka will face Russia’s Maria Kirilenko, who defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands 7-5, 6-4, and knows it will be a tough match to come through.
“She’s definitely improved a lot over the last couple years since she’s very motivated player.”
Azarenka leads their head–to-head 3-2, and the pair have never met on clay.