A fantastic quarter-final clash has officially been set, as world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka and world No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska will meet for the 17th time on the professional tour for a spot in the final four of the tournament. Azarenka, who has won the last seven encounters between the pair, leads the head-to-head series 13-3 heading into their Wednesday match-up in Melbourne.
While it was not the easiest of victories, world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka eventually earned her passage into the quarter-final with a straight sets victory over Sloane Stephens, whom she had defeated at last year’s Australian Open as well. The Belarusian never dropped serve throughout the match and managed to convert three of 14 break point chances to secure leads in both sets. She also hit an equal number of winners to unforced errors (20/20), which was ultimately enough to defeat the 13th-seeded Stephens.
Azarenka, the defending champion in Melbourne, has now managed 18 consecutive wins at the Australian Open and will certainly be the favourite heading into her clash against Radwanska on Wednesday.
“I don’t consider myself a favorite because I don’t consider anybody a favorite. I just go out there and play my best, because anybody on any given day – we’ve seen that happen the last couple days – can bring their best game. You have to stay alert. It doesn’t matter that you’re No.2 or whatever.
For me it’s important to keep focusing on my game and play one at a time. Quarterfinals of a Grand Slam is never easy, no matter who you play. The way I approach the matches, I have to be ready 100% for every player.”
The World No. 5 had her hands full on Monday afternoon against hyped Spanish up-and-comer Garbiñe Muguruza, who had dispatched of Caroline Wozniacki in the previous round to set up this encounter. The first four games of the match last a total of 36 minutes and featured some of the best tennis produced at the entire event, as Radwanska battled to remain on serve against the aggressive Spaniard.
Requiring the use of her cunning slices and attacks, Radwanska managed to fend off several break point attempts and ultimately secured one of her own, which sent her on a roll to win the opening set. She would break to a 4-2 lead in the second set before eventually closing out the match 6-1, 6-3 to reach her fourth consecutive quarter-final in Melbourne.
While her gameplay was outstanding in her fourth round match-up, the Polish No. 1 knows she will need to produce some of her best tennis to defeat the defending champion on Wednesday. She admits that she has nothing to lose plans to perform at her best during the match.
“I think I have to play even better than today to beat her,” Radwanska said of her quarterfinal opponent. “Obviously, she’s playing great tennis, especially here, and is defending champion. I think I have nothing to lose. Hopefully I can really play my best tennis and I will fight.”
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka in Three Sets