MONTERREY, Mexico - Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka ousted four-time champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Friday's final quarterfinal in Monterrey, 6-0, 6-4.
"It was a great match and I'm very happy with the level of tennis that I showed today," Azarenka said after the match.
"Playing Anastasia here, she's done such an amazing job, so I knew I had to come out playing my best tennis. Today I really stepped it up a level."
Azarenka prevailed in dominant fashion in the opening set, dropping just two points on serve to make a statement to begin the first meeting between the two players in nearly four years.
However, the four-time champion in Monterrey would not be easily beaten, as she won three straight games after losing the first seven to lead by a break, capping the run with an emphatic break to love to lead 3-1.
From there, however, Pavlyuchenkova would win just one more game against a dialed-in Azarenka, who broke twice more and saved a break point in a key sixth game to move into her first semifinal since last year's Miami Open.
"I feel really excited and I want to keep going. It's another step on my journey, with the progress I've been doing, I'm glad that I'm able to progress in matches now," Azarenka assessed.
"I've been doing a lot of this in practice, but couldn't really bring the results into matches, so I'm happy that I'm able to do things better in matches."
Both players racked up 16 winners in the match, but Azarenka's aggression proved much more consistent throughout the one hour and eight minute clash, as she hit just nine unforced errors to the Russian's 24.
In Azarenka's debut appearance in Monterrey, the two-time Australian Open champion will next face Angelique Kerber for the ninth time in their careers, and first time in three years.
Azarenka leads the head-to-head between the two, 7-1, but six of those wins came before Kerber captured her first career Grand Slam title at the 2016 Australian Open.
"It's going to be an incredibly tough match. She's an amazing player, incredible champion," the Belarusian said.
"We've had quite a few battles in the past, and it's never easy, so I'm looking forward to see where my level is at, and to try to do my best."