Victoria Azarenka is in the quarter-final of a slam for the first time since 2016, the year she took a break from the tour to give birth. She has a more than winnable quarter final match up against Elise Mertens, who is yet to drop a set this fortnight. All eyes will be on a potential semi final between Azarenka and Serena Williams, with the pair playing two thrilling finals back in the Belarusian’s best days.
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Mertens was a surprise winner against Sofia Kenin in round four, ensuring the American would not add a second slam to her haul in 2020. It was a surprisingly one-sided affair after the Belgian got out the blocks quickly, winning five of the first six games in her 6-3 6-3 win. “I played pretty aggressively from the first ball, and that’s pretty necessary against her because she’s a great player who can hit a lot of great angles, I tried to step into the court, and thankfully my first serve was working, so that was a big advantage.” she said after. It was a smooth performance from start to finish with 19 winners to just 7 unforced errors for Mertens.
Azarenka was not at her best in her fourth round victory against Karolina Muchova but remains unbeaten since the tour resumed after the comeback 5-7 6-1 6-4 win. She had dealt much easier with aggressive players earlier in the draw but the Czech offered more of a threat before eventually fading as the match drew on. “She played unbelievably, getting to balls and bringing everything back. I would try coming to the net and bring passing shots where I couldn’t do anything! It was such a great match and of such high quality. I really had to dig in and bring more aggression because she was really feeling the ball well.” Azarenka said on the match.
“She’s played great. She played very well at Cincinnati, so it’s going to be fun. I’ve played her once or twice in doubles, so it’ll be great. It’s another amazing opportunity to be in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam.” Azarenka said on Mertens. The former No. 1 looks a much more relaxed player since the tour resumed, looking no longer burdened by the high expectations placed upon her. She will have to remain alert and should be well aware of the danger posed by the Belgian on her best days, where she can be far more aggressive than your average counterpuncher.
Prediction – Victoria Azarenka in straight sets