Azarenka & Radwanska: Round Six In Madrid
Published May 11, 2012 12:00
MADRID, Spain - Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska will go head to head for an incredible sixth time already this year in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open, after both survived tough quarterfinals Friday.
The No.1-seeded Azarenka was the first of the pair to move into the final four, rallying from a set and a break down and fighting for almost two hours to defeat No.8 seed Li Na, 36 63 63. Li won the first set and broke in the first game of the second set, but Azarenka took four games in a row to take control of the second set, then went on another run of four games to kick off the third set.
There were some tight moments towards the end of the third set, as Li cut Azarenka's lead down from 4-0 to 4-3 and even had two break points to tie it 4-all, but the World No.1 held serve then broke right away to seal the victory.
The match was so close, Azarenka won only three more points in it: 86 to 83.
"She was pretty unbelievable in the first set, hitting all the lines and all the corners, so I didn't really have a chance, especially on the return," Azarenka said. ""There are a lot of things I had to change and come up with in order to surprise her. I had to turn something around. I don't know if it was confidence or self-belief, or just pushing myself to be better and really wanting to win.
"I don't know what happened, but I'm just glad I could turn things around."
There has been a lot of talk, some negative, about the blue clay courts being used at the tournament this year, the first tournament ever to use them.
Azarenka shared her thoughts: "It's not only one player complaining about it. I'm not a fan of this court, but I don't want to sit here and complain about it. I have to play. Nothing is going to change this year. We can talk about possible changes after the tournament, but during the tournament I don't see the point. I have to be focused on my game and those are the conditions I have to deal with."
Next for Azarenka is No.4 seed Radwanska, who held off American qualifier Varvara Lepchenko in a one-hour, 43-minute grinder, 64 64. Radwanska originally led 5-2 in both sets, with Lepchenko closing the gap to 5-4 both times; but the World No.3 snuck out breaks right away both times to prevail.
"There were a lot of long games," Radwanska said. "Varvara has been playing very well here. She was making a lot of good shots and good angles and had me in trouble in both sets. She's especially difficult to play given she's a lefty. I'm happy I could reach the semifinals of such a big tournament."
Azarenka dominates the overall head-to-head with Radwanska, 10-3, largely thanks to her complete domination of their 2012 head-to-head - she has won all five 2012 meetings, including the last three routinely in straight sets.
"We play in almost every tournament now," Azarenka said. "I've played her five times this year, but every match is different and I never look back on any of these matches. She's a very tough opponent whenever we play and I have a lot of respect for her game. She has been showing incredible tennis this year."
"Vika is No.1 and playing very good tennis, so for sure I'll have to play 100% to beat her," Radwanska said. "I didn't play well enough the last couple of times, but we've had good matches in the past and I will try my best tomorrow again."
Radwanska will rise to No.2 in the world if she wins the title in Madrid.