Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Azarenka and Clijsters advance to Australian Open semifinals

Victoria Azarenka, who some have predicted will win the Australian Open, took another step toward that goal yesterday when she defeated her good friend Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. The first set, as the scoreline shows, was highly competitive, but then took a turn when Radwanska won the tiebreak 7-0. But a completely different Radwanska stepped onto the court for the second set. She looked suddenly sluggish (not a term one would generally use to describe her), and she was unable to win a game.

I expected the third set to be competitive, also, but by this time, Azarenka had all the momentum, and Radwanska--while she was able to get on the scoreboard--continued to serve poorly and make errors. We haven't seen Radwanska fade to this extent in a long time. She is generally not that vulnerable to the terrible heat, so I don't really know what happened to her.

Speaking of Radwanska--she had added a coach to her team. She is working with Jelena Dokic's former coach, Borna Bikic. However, Tomasz Wiktorowski--the Polish Fed Cup coach whom Radwanska recently hired to coach her--is still part of her coaching team. Both coaches were with her at the Australian Open.

In the other quarterfinal played yesterday, defending champion Kim Clijsters defeated top seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 7-6. Clijsters injured her ankle in her round of 16 match against Li Na, and she also saved four match points in that match. She's been busy icing and treating her ankle ever since, and during that time, she also learned how to move on her foot in a way that would minimize any further tweaking of the injury. She apparently learned well because we saw the famous Clijsters splits in yesterday's match.

The defending champion was anxious, though, and was broken four times, including when she served for the match at 5-3 in the second set. That set went to a tiebreak, which Clijsters won 7-4. She hit a volley on match point, which accentuated how successful she had been at the net throughout the match. For her part, Wozniacki was successful with less than half of her volleys, she got her first serve in 57% of the time, and she made twice as many unforced errors as she winners.

It wasn't a great performance from Clijsters, but it was certainly good enough. She also had the crowd behind her. As for Wozniacki--she has now lost her number 1 ranking, but could certainly get it back.

Next for Clijsters is Azarenka, against whom she has a 4-2 record.

No comments: