ROME, Italy - The unseeded duo of Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty booked their spot in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final after taking down top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4.
“It was a lot of fun today,” Azarenka grinned. “It’s the second time we’ve played against these girls. Before we had a really, really close match in Miami. Obviously they’re the No.1 team in the world so we knew they were going to be very tough opponents.
“I’m really happy that we were able to play well, take our opportunities. There were quite a few breaks of serve, but we played well. I’m happy that we’re through to the final.”
In photo: Rome 2019: How 'Super Thursday' unfolded
In order to reach the semifinals, the pair had to mount a mammoth effort on one of the busiest days ever in tennis. A historic ‘total washout’ on Wednesday meant that players had to do double duty to make up for lost time.
But their work wasn’t done yet as the schedule was just as busy on Friday, when Azarenka and Barty had to play two doubles matches in one day - in addition to Azarenka’s singles match - in order to advance to their semifinal clash against the Czechs.
Azarenka and Barty came into the matchup on a tear, and bolstered by the fact that they had claimed a win over the World No.1 doubles team en route to the Miami Open semifinals in March.
At the Foro Italico, the teams started the match by trading breaks twice in a tight opening set, and staying on serve for most of the contest. With Barty handling the baseline against Krejcikova, a perfectly-timed Azarenka poach at the net sealed the set, 6-4.
The second set unfolded in the same way, with five breaks of serve making the difference in a closely-contested set. With Azarenka serving for match at 5-3, a double fault on match point gave the Czech duo a lifeline as they tried to bring up a match tiebreaker. But the pair redeemed themselves a game later, knocking out the top seeds to seal their spot in the final.
“The key today was to just be aggressive, take your opportunities,” Azarenka said. “Obviously we had to create some shots, create the momentum, and take our chances. We were really aggressive and making good volleys, just making a lot of things happen on the court.”
Up next, Azarenka and Barty will face No.8 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs in the final as they seek the first title of their partnership. Groenefeld and Schuurs defeated Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Latisha 7-5, 6-7(6), 10-3 earlier in the day to reach the championship match.
“Ashleigh and I actually played [Groenefeld and Schuurs] last week, and we lost to them,” Azarenka recalled. “It’ll be a good rematch for us tomorrow.”