Victoria Azarenka rolled back the clock Tuesday night in Melbourne cruising past world No. 3 Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-1 to reach her first Australian Open semifinal in 10 years.
The 33-year-old Azarenka, a 2-time Australian Open winner, was too strong for the American No. 1 on th biggest of point. Azarenka saved all break points she faced and had just 20 unforced errors to Pegula’s 34.
Azarenka is in her first Slam semifinal since the 2020 US Open.
“Especially last year, my tennis wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t mentally there. I played with a lot of fear and anxiety. It was really difficult to be brave, to make the right choices when you feel anxious and hesitant,” she said.
“I worked a lot on my mindset, challenging myself on things I wouldn’t do before, try to push myself.
“When you achieve great success, sometimes you become conservative, more hesitant to try new things, but this off-season I was open-minded. I put my head down and I worked hard.”
Pegula falls to 0-5 in Grand Slam quarterfinals. It’s her third straight loss in this round in Australia.
“It’s an interesting feeling, I guess. I still don’t really feel like that. I look at the draw and you have Rybakina who won Wimbledon last year, you have Vika who does really well here,” said Pegula.
“It feels like there’s still a long way to go, to be honest.”
Azarenka will now face Elena Rybakina who overpowered Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 to reach her first Australian Open semifinal. The Kazakh cracked 11 aces including three in the last game to pace her first win over the Latvian in three tries.
“I think of course I got all the experience at Wimbledon, and it’s helping me now this time here in Australia and I know what to expect,” Rybakina said. “Feeling good on the court and just really enjoying every match I’m playing here.”
On Wednesday, Karolina Pliskova returns against Magda Linette and Aryna Sabalenka battles Donna Vekic. Vekic leads 5-1 over Sabalenka.
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