Azarenka defeats Pegula in straight sets to get to the Australian Open semifinals.
Victoria Azarenka’s stratospheric level served as a reminder of why she has accomplished so much as she closed in on one of her most momentous triumphs of the last ten years. Azarenka relentlessly took the ball early while prowling within the baseline and applied constant, stifling pressure.
The two-time Australian Open champion defeated third-seeded Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the semi-finals for the first time since 2013 thanks to her unwavering intensity.
I knew I had to play quickly, prevent her from having a chance to intervene and switch things up, she added. “I created a few intriguing slices. You’re doing the right thing, I told her. It’s okay even if it looks terrible. It’s the proper approach to proceed.
Pegula had been one of the best players after destroying her four opponents to go to her third straight quarterfinal at the Australian Open without dropping a set. But in a situation that was crucial to Azarenka’s career, Pegula was unable to handle the strain she put on her.
Pegula remarked, “She carried out her plan flawlessly. “She was just carrying it out fairly well. hitting the ball deeply, seizing it quickly, and changing the ball’s course.
Such scenes have been uncommon in the past ten years since Victoria Azarenka competed with Serena Williams in the biggest finals and rose to the top of the global rankings. She suffered from personal concerns, such as a custody dispute, after giving birth to her son Leo in 2016 and going on maternity leave; as a result, she was unable to regularly regain her level of old.
Azarenka appeared to have reached a turning point when she made the US Open final in 2020, but the lift she believed it would bring never materialized. She has advanced to the quarterfinal of a grand slam twice since 2016 and to the semi-final of a great slam twice since 2013.
Azarenka says that the stress and anxiety that followed her on the court last season are to blame for some of her current issues. She claimed that she was too terrified of failing to be mentally ready to play competitive tennis. The 33-year-old was enthusiastic and open about the process it took to feel comfortable on the court after the match.
You might not immediately recognize it, she said. It builds up to a really awful point where nothing makes sense is reached. You feel rather lost. I had reached the point where I was at a loss for even a single remark that made me feel good about myself.
“After my match in Ostrava [where she was eliminated in the first round in October], I shattered a couple of rackets. That was a really trying time for me.
Since then, she has strived to develop the ability to appropriately handle her feelings and thoughts in high-stress, high-pressure circumstances. I persisted in making small progress by taking on new challenges and moving forward. Instead of leaping to conclusions in a certain situation, jumping to a conclusion or goal, and really focusing step by step, which is really difficult to do, I learned how to start building a process that is step-by-step. It demands a great deal of everyday work.
Azarenka’s victory here in 2012 was a turning point in her career because it propelled her to No. 1 and started a string of 26 victories before she successfully defended her championship. A medical timeout during her semifinal matchup with Sloane Stephens during that second title run raised controversy. It has taken her ten years to recover from the psychological wounds caused by the backlash.
The way I was treated after that point and having to defend myself till 10.30 p.m. because people didn’t want to, believe me, were two of the worst experiences of her professional life, she claimed. “I was considering it. I needed ten years to recover from that. I’ve finally moved past that.
Ten years after her last Australian Open semi-final, Azarenka will take on Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina after the Kazakh defeated former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 to advance to her second grand slam semifinal. The Kazakh had previously defeated world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the fourth round.