Australian Open: Victoria Azarenka makes a triumphant return to the quarter-finals


Two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka steadied her nerves and her game long enough to beat Lin Zhu in their fourth-round match on Sunday. In what was the last match of the day that began at around 11.30 PM local time, Azarenka claimed a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory after two hours and 40 minutes.

The match began with a break – on Azarenka’s serve – and although she’d broken back after four games, Zhu emerged as the better player with more control and better execution of her shots. A second break on the 33-year-old’s serve in the seventh game allowed Zhu to close out the set in the 10th game.

Australian Open: Victoria Azarenka and Jessica Pegula’s face-off

In the second set, Azarenka rebounded with dictatorial ferocity. She didn’t miss her shots across the set while Zhu sprayed errors to go down a double break quickly. In the sixth game, Zhu finally her serve but by that point, the set had gone out of her hands. While serving for the set in the seventh game, Azarenka couldn’t convert on the first set point she had but didn’t waste the second.

The final set swung drastically between the two players. The first six games were service breaks with Zhu breaking the deadlock by winning her service in the seventh game. Azarenka followed suit with a hold of her own. The ninth game saw Azarenka break the Chinese player’s serve once again and while trying to serve for the match in the next game, she quickly faced two break-back points. However, a winner off Azarenka’s forehand a couple of errors from Zhu not only brought the former world no. 1 into the match but also brought up a match point for her. A backhand winner then wrapped up the proceedings for the 24th seed.

Azarenka finished with 41 winners and 35 unforced errors to Zhu’s 45 winners and 32 unforced errors. In her first quarter-final at Melbourne Park since 2016, Azarenka will play third seed Jessica Pegula.

Pegula, who’s the only American woman left in the draw defeated 20th seed Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 6-2 in their fourth-round clash. This is the third consecutive year that Jessica Pegula’s made it to the last eight at the Australian Open. 

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