Makarova Outdoes Azarenka In QFs
Published September 03, 2014 12:14
If the past were the predictor of this one, many would have picked Azarenka to come through - finals here the last two years, two Grand Slam titles in Australia, a winning head-to-head, and, though it was only a slight lead, a higher seeding, Azarenka seeded No.16 and Makarova just below at No.17.
But it has been an injury-marred year for Azarenka, and in Flushing Meadows she was just starting to show the kind of form that took her to all those legendary results. She had been pushed to three sets in two of her first four matches and with Makarova on fire - she didn't lose a set all tournament, including in her fourth round upset over Eugenie Bouchard - this was always going to be a tough one.
The Turning Point
Azarenka looked strong early on, holding her first few service games and breaking for 3-2, but Makarova broke right back to even it at 3-all and snuck one more break a few games later to go up 5-4, eventually serving out the first set comfortably, Azarenka missing a forehand on the set point.
The beginning of the second set was tight, as the two stayed even through the first four games, but from 2-all Makarova kicked into high gear one more time to storm into the semifinals, 6-4, 6-2.
While Azarenka was slightly off her game during the match, putting together a -5 winners-to-unforced errors differential (22 to 27), but Makarova was rock solid with a +2 differential (23 to 21).
By The Numbers
The big number here was five - the number of tries it took for Makarova to finally get over the quarterfinal hurdle at a Grand Slam. She had reached the final eight at majors four times before but lost every time, twice to Maria Sharapova (2012 Australian Open and 2013 Australian Open), once to Li Na (2013 US Open) and once to Lucie Safarova (2014 Wimbledon). But the fifth time was the charm.
Makarova was asked in her press conference how she felt about her first Grand Slam semifinal.
"Well, it's not hit me yet. I'm still feeling the same like the matches before," she said. "But of course I'm happy that I came through, finally through the quarters and I'm in the semis now. Today was a great, tough match. We played so many times, she beat me and I beat her, so it was a tough one."
And on whether she changed anything from the previous four Grand Slam quarterfinals?
"Before maybe I didn't believe that much that I could come through," Makarova said. "Today was definitely a different feeling, and I really believed I was ready to go forward and be in the semis."
Thank u all for the support and well done to my opponent today! Well deserved! #usopen— victoria azarenka (@vika7) September 3, 2014