The word from Vika Azarenka's staff is that she had some bad sushi, was sick, and couldn't practice yesterday. She seemed especially out of sorts (though sometimes that distinction is hard to make with Azarenka because what looks "out of sorts" can actually be a good thing) today in her quarterfinal against Ekaterina Makarova. Makarova, on the other hand, was about as "in sorts" as you can get. She has yet to drop a set, and has reached the semifinals in both singles and doubles. She defeated Azarenka 6-4, 6-2.
Azarenka's food poisoning episode, unfortunately, falls right into a pattern of unfortunate hindrances she has experienced over the years. It used to be just constant injury of the thigh and that sort of thing, but then it became falling down from heat illness or food poisoning (depending on which story everyone read on a given day--I still think it was mainly food poisoning, though heat illness became the runaway gossip), falling down with a concussion because of a pre-match accident, withdrawing because of a toxic pedicure (the people who made fun of this probably should experience a pedicure infection, just to increase their personal growth), and I can't even remember what else.
Azarenka, even in her best times, is an accident waiting to happen. And just when you think those "oh, no--not again" days are over, you learn that they're not. Hers is a strange track, and while it has put her on a stretcher and taken her out of big tournaments, it has also awarded her two Australian Open titles, two U.S. Open finals and the number 1 ranking. Vika remains cool, no matter how many times she falls down flat or eats bad food. She isn't going away. Out most of the year because of injury, she was able to make it to the quarterfinals of this tournament, which is quite an accomplishment.
But today's star was Makarova, a low-key, very pleasant Russian player with a big lefty serve and an affinity for great big tournaments. When she's playing well, Makarova is hard to beat. She told ESPN today that in other majors, she was so happy to reach the quarterfinals, she wound up being content with a quarterfinal run. But this time, she explained, she knew she wouldn't be content with that--she wanted more, and she believed she could get it.
Her opponent in the semifinals will be Serena Williams, the top seed, who defeated Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-2 tonight. She had to come back from a 0-3 deficit in the first set, but after she did, it wasn't very difficult for her to win. Makarova beat Williams in the 2012 Australian Open round of 16.
Meanwhile, 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm and her partner, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, advanced to the semifinals in doubles by defeating 8th seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Zheng Jie 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. This is the first time that either Date-Krumm or Zahlavova Strycova has reached a major doubles semifinal. The pair will play Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the next round. That's right: When you say "semifinals," you're saying "Makarova."
The mixed doubles final is set. Top seeds Sania Mirza and Bruno Soares will compete against Abigail Spears and Santiago Gonazlez.