TOKYO, Japan -- World No.37 Camila Giorgi of Italy completed the Toray Pan Pacific Open semifinal lineup on Friday, after former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus retired from their match due to a GI illness while trailing 5-3 in the opening set.
"I was focused today, I concentrated on my game and I always play to win," Giorgi told the media, after the match. "I’m playing good and just want to keep this momentum going."
Only 28 minutes of play elapsed before Azarenka was too overcome to continue, and Giorgi extended her head-to-head record over the two-time Australian Open champion to 2-0, although in a truncated manner on this occasion.
Nevertheless, Giorgi's typically fiery groundstrokes were on song while the match was in progress, blasting 10 winners to only four unforced errors, and the Italian converted both of the break points she held in the match. Azarenka, clearly hampered, did break Giorgi once but was unable to muster up one winner during the encounter.
26-year-old Giorgi moves into the final four in Tokyo for the first time in her career, where she will meet No.3 seed and home country heroine Naomi Osaka. US Open champion Osaka claimed her ninth win in a row earlier on Friday by ousting No.8 seed Barbora Strycova in straight sets.
"The crowds are great here in Tokyo and it’s a real pleasure to play in front of the Japanese fans," Giorgi said. "Naomi is strong and powerful but I will play and focus on my game."
Azarenka took advantage of an error-prone Giorgi to claim the first break of the match and lead 2-1. But the Belarusian was openly struggling during her on-court coaching visit after that game, and once the players changed ends, the match turned.
Giorgi came back firing, and quickly reclaimed the break at love, ending the game with a forehand return winner smack on the baseline. The Italian then closed out her next service game at love with a backhand volley winner, clinching eight points in a row to grasp the 3-2 lead.
Despite her ailment, Azarenka did well to hold with ease for 3-3, but Giorgi raced through another service game at love, then broke the Belarusian at love again, dominating with brilliant backhands and taking a crucial 5-3 lead. After another eight-point streak went against her, Azarenka deemed herself unable to continue, and Giorgi was left standing in the semifinals.