Victoria Azarenka reached the US Open Round of 16 for the seventh time in her career with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Petra Martic on Saturday.
The No.26 seed Azarenka, a three-time US Open finalist in 2012, 2013 and 2020, took 1 hour and 21 minutes to defeat 54th-ranked Martic, who was seeking her third trip to the US Open Round of 16 in the last four years.
Words from the winner: "I felt like I started very solid and I kind of kept my foot on the gas pedal and just really kept raising my intensity, game after game," Azarenka said after her win.
"I felt that I played really good in also important moments. On break points I really took my chances, was really effective from defense to offense, kind of changing and shifting the game from one, two shots. I think that worked really well."
Fast facts: This was the first meeting between tour veterans Azarenka and Martic in a decade, with 33-year-old Azarenka improving to 2-0 against 31-year-old Martic. Azarenka had handily won their only previous match on the indoor hard courts of Linz in 2012.
Two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka is one of seven active players with more than 100 Grand Slam main-draw wins. Forty-four of those have come at the US Open. Among players in this year’s draw, only Serena Williams and Venus Williams have more match-wins in Flushing Meadows.
Match breakdown: Martic, a former Top 15 player, defeated a Top 5 player for the fourth time in her career in the previous round when she upset No.4 seed Paula Badosa, but she could not oust another seed.
Azarenka had 22 winners in the match, doubling Martic's 11, and converted five of her 11 break points.
After an early exchange of breaks in the opening set, Azarenka notched the decisive lead by converting her fifth break point of a lengthy game with an error-forcing forehand to lead 4-2.
Martic upped the ante with frequent trips into the net, but Azarenka executed deft passes when she needed to and reeled off 10 of the last 11 games to clinch victory.
Pliskova overcomes Bencic
In the fourth round, Azarenka will take on another former World No.1, Karolina Pliskova. 2016 US Open runner-up Pliskova, seeded 22nd, outlasted No.13 seed Belinda Bencic 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 in a two-and-a-half-hour tussle on Saturday evening.
Bencic led by a set and a break at 7-5, 2-0, but Pliskova methodically took charge of the affair from there, bolstering her powerful serves and groundstrokes with some of her most impressive movement and defense to date.
The third set saw Pliskova lead by a break at 3-1 and 4-2, but last year's Olympic gold medalist Bencic steered back on serve after each of those occasions. However, Pliskova chased down everything Bencic threw at her in the next game to break once again and serve for the match.
Following five consecutive breaks, Pliskova finally put the server back in the driver's seat, as she fired forehand winners on the last two points to seal victory.
Bencic finished the match with four more winners than Pliskova, but Pliskova was cleaner with 30 unforced errors to Bencic's 42. Pliskova also won 67 percent of her first-service points, 10 percent more effective than Bencic was behind that shot.
Azarenka and Pliskova will now meet in a blockbuster clash for a spot in the US Open quarterfinals. Their head-to-head is all square at four wins apiece, but they will be facing off for the first time in over three years.