Azarenka survives Paris scare

2012-05-28 13:39
Victoria Azarenka (File)

Paris - Victoria Azarenka battled back from a set and 4-0 down to defeat Italy's Alberta Brianti on Monday and avoid becoming the first top seed in history to be knocked out in the French Open first round.

World number one Azarenka won 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2 and will face German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier for a place in the last 32, but she flirted with disaster for much of her 2 hour 16 minute battle on Philippe Chatrier Court.

The 32-year-old Brianti, who had never won a match in four previous main draw appearances at Roland Garros, was left to regret squandering a break point in the fifth game of the second set.

She was on the verge of a 5-0 lead when Azarenka sent down a second serve ace to stay in contention, the point proving to be the significant moment in the tie.

Azarenka, who won her first Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open this year, came into Roland Garros nursing a shoulder injury which had forced her to pull out of the Italian Open two weeks ago.

And it appeared that she was heading for a shock exit until she reeled of 12 of the last 14 games as Brianti ran out of steam.

The 22-year-old Azarenka, twice a quarter-finalist in Paris, ended the match having committed 60 unforced errors and serving up six double faults.

But she had started confidently, taking a 2-0 lead over the Italian.

Brianti, the world 105, then hit back by winning the next four games for a 4-2 lead.

Three more breaks of serve followed in an increasingly untidy opener with the top seed having to save a first set point in the 10th game.

Brianti raced into a 5-1 lead in the tiebreak, but was unable to convert two more set points as the Belarusian grimly hung on, hitting back to level at 6-6 in the process.

But Azarenka eventually wilted when a forehand went long to hand the Italian a one-set lead.

Things didn't get any better for Azarenka in the second set as she fell 4-0 down, slumping to her knees in the process.

However, after saving a break point to avoid slipping 5-0 down, she then reeled off six games in succession to level the match as Brianti suddenly looked like someone who has never beaten a top 10 player.

The Italian managed to break for a 1-0 lead in the decider, but once Azarenka had steamed ahead to 5-2, her chance of making history had gone.

Read more on:    french open  |  victoria azarenka  |  tennis

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership nearing its conclusion, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Bidvest Wits hold them off? A bridge too far for new boys Cape Town City FC? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Which is your favourite Grand Slam of the year?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.