Australian Open

Azarenka into semi-finals

2012-01-24 07:14
Victoria Azarenka (AFP)

Melbourne - Third seed Victoria Azarenka roared back from a set down to beat Agnieszka Radwanska 6-7 6-0 6-2 and reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The Wimbledon semi-finalist, who beat the Pole on the way to winning in Sydney earlier this month, looked in trouble when she lost a first set tiebreak 7-0.

However, Azarenka turned the tables in the second set, running Radwanska ragged from the baseline, before carrying the momentum into the third and sealing the win in a little over two hours.

Azarenka will face Kim Clijsters in the last four after the Belgian knocked world number one Caroline Wozniacki out of the year's first grand slam.

Belarusian Azarenka had once struggled to contain her inner demons in the early part of her career but has since become much more controlled on court.

Despite the Melbourne Park crowd mimicking her distinctive grunts at times, she never let her shoulders slump or allowed the negative emotions to take control.

"I think I am a different player right now, especially mentally-wise," Azarenka told reporters in the post-match news conference. "Today I really tried to forget about the first set and start from zero and really fight hard.

"I think that's the toughest thing out there. Especially when the weather is tough. Your mind is boiling and it's difficult to think.

"Plus you have somebody on the opposite side that is making you a little bit crazy and you have to keep it together."

Azarenka looked in control of the first set but at 6-5 up her serve suddenly fell apart, letting Radwanska break to bring up a tiebreak.

The eighth seed did not let the opportunity slip and kept her opponent off the board to take the first set.

Radwanska's joy was short-lived, however, as Azarenka came out swinging in the second set, moving her opponent from one side of the court to the other to set up crunching forehand winners.

Azarenka wrapped up the set in just 26 minutes and while the third was slightly more competitive, Radwanska had no answer to her opponent's power from the baseline.

Much has been made of the on-court grunting by Azarenka and other female players such as Maria Sharapova and the game's ruling body (WTA) is looking at its impact on play.

Radwanska said that while she was used to hearing the shrieks from close friend Azarenka, or 'Vika', during their matches, the WTA should review their rules on the issue.

"I'm pretty used to it, especially with Vika," said the Pole. "About Maria, what can I say? For sure that is pretty annoying and it's just too loud."

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