AO Wednesday: Will Halep's Run Continue?
Published January 21, 2014 12:12
MELBOURNE, Australia - Simona Halep will contest her first Grand Slam quarterfinal against Dominika Cibulkova, and Victoria Azarenka seeks to continue her dominance versus Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Rod Laver Arena
 Simona Halep (ROU #11) vs.  Dominika Cibulkova (SVK #24)
Head-to-head: Cibulkova leads 2-1
Any speculation that Simona Halep's superb play in International and Premier-level events in 2013 wouldn't carry over to Grand Slams has been put to rest this fortnight. She comes into her first quarterfinal at a major fresh off her sixth Top 10 win, having beaten No.8 Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round and having been assured of becoming the first Romanian in the Top 10 since Irina Spirlea in September 1998. She is also the first Romanian to get this far at the Australian Open since Spirlea in 1997 and if she can go one round further with a triumph over Dominika Cibulkova, she would be the tournament's first Romanian semifinalist.
"I've played her before and know it will be a tough match," Halep said of Cibulkova. "She moves very well and gets a lot of balls back. I have to be prepared to run a lot and defend a lot. I also have to be aggressive and just enjoy the quarterfinals because is the first time I've gotten this far in my life. I am happy to be there."
Cibulkova, coming off her 11th Top 5 win over Maria Sharapova, is looking to improve her 1-3 Grand Slam quarterfinal record and to match her best outing at a major - a semifinal run at the 2009 French Open. She is the first Slovakian Australian Open quarterfinalist since Daniela Hantuchova in 2008.
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #2) vs.  Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #5)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 12-3
If Victoria Azarenka's latest match with Agnieszka Radwanska plays out like their recent encounters, she has to like her chances. She has won seven straight matches in the series and 12 straight sets, having not even lost more than four games in any of those sets. Her defeat of Sloane Stephens in the fourth round improved the two-time defending champion to 32-6 at the Australian Open and was her 18th straight win here. The Belarusian is in fine form this fortnight, as she is the only player left yet to surrender a set.
Radwanska is no stranger to Australian Open quarterfinals, but is still looking for her first win, as she's 0-4 in that round here and 2-7 in all Grand Slams. She is coming off her most one-sided match of the fortnight, a 61 63 victory over Garbiñe Muguruza that put her into her seventh quarterfinal in the last nine majors. If she is able to end her skid against Azarenka, it would be her fifth win over a Top 2 foe.
"She's very consistent," Radwanska said of Azarenka. "She plays at a high level all the time. You have to win matches against her on your own because she's not going to give you any free points."