Azarenka Makes Final, No.2 Now On The Line
Published October 29, 2011 12:00
ISTANBUL, Turkey - After a tough loss in her last round robin match, all eyes were on how she would rebound in her semifinal - and she definitely rebounded. Victoria Azarenka was as solid as a rock in the semifinals of the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships on Saturday, overcoming Vera Zvonareva - one of her most difficult opponents - comfortably in straight sets, 62 63.
Azarenka seemed unstoppable as she beat Li Na and Sam Stosur handily in her first two round robin matches. But she stumbled against Marion Bartoli in her third - though she had won seven of their eight previous meetings she never looked comfortable during a 57 64 64 defeat to the Frenchwoman, who was an alternate in Istanbul, replacing an injured, No.2-ranked Maria Sharapova.
"I really tried to change my mentality from yesterday. It was a bit of a disaster," Azarenka said. "I'm glad I turned it around and came out strong today."
She broke serve three times in the first set, including once at love. There were some tough moments in the 59-minute second set, including a marathon six-deuce fourth game where Zvonareva defied four break points to hold for 2-all, but Azarenka got a late break and served it out, her fourth win in their 10 meetings.
Now Azarenka is one win away from arguably her biggest career title, her biggest triumphs to date coming at the Premier-level Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, where she has twice lifted the trophy (2009 and earlier this year).
Awaiting the No.4-ranked Azarenka in the final will be the No.3-ranked Petra Kvitova, who rallied from 75 10 down to beat Samantha Stosur in the first semifinal of the day, 57 63 63 (read more about Kvitova-Stosur here).
Not only will the TEB BNP Paribas WTA Championships title be on the line, but the winner will also rise to a new career-high ranking of No.2 in the world.
"Tomorrow is the last match. It's about sudden death," Azarenka said in her on-court interview. "It's the first final here for both of us. We both want to win and it'll take everything out of us. I hope we can show the best tennis we can."
Kvitova leads Azarenka in their head-to-head series, 3-2. Azarenka won their first two meetings, but Kvitova has won their last three in a row.
"Petra really goes for her shots. She has lost some matches that were a little bit unexpected, but at the same time she can be on and just hit winners," Azarenka said. "I don't really want to look back into our last matches. Both times she was in her best form. Now she's playing well, but so am I."