Doha - Victoria Azarenka, the only leading
player in the world who remains unbeaten this year, impressively
achieved her 13th successive win of 2013 on Saturday to carry her
defence of the Qatar Open title into the final.
Belarussian did that with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Agnieszka Radwanska of
Poland, a thumping result against the fourth best player in the world
and one which could lead to back-to-back defence of titles.
Azarenka successfully defended the Australian Open last month.
It also indicated how much Azarenka has improved since winning that first Grand Slam title just over a year ago.
this evidence she is the world's best player right now, even though she
will lose the world number one ranking to Serena Williams on Monday.
The American, due to play Maria Sharapova in the other semi-final, has been suffering from back and ankle injuries and a cold.
bombarding ground strokes have more angles and more variety than they
did, she is more willing to come to the net and more effective there,
and mentally she is more solid.
Once ahead against Radwanska there was no suggestion that she might falter.
what had brought such improvement, Azarenka replied: "I've grown up a
little bit. It's maturity and a little more experience."
beginning of last year was a kick start for me to find more rhythm and
step up my game. I also love it here in Doha and it feels like home, so I
am glad I am in the final again."
From the start that looked likely.
broke Radwanska in the opening game, and although she lost the
advantage she made the second, more crucial break soon afterwards.
then she had got into her powerfully rhythmic stride and it opened a
door to a period of dominance in which she took seven out of eight
Azarenka was more powerful off the ground than Radwanska,
which too often required the Pole to move out of her comfort zone to
counter it. When Radwanska tried to hit a little harder or closer to the
lines, her error ratio, usually so low, went up.
It also placed pressure on Radwanska to get her first serve in, to avoid punishment being delivered upon the second.
effect was to create tension, forcing Radwanska's first serve ratio
down to 54 percent, lower than par for the course, enabling Azarenka to
capitalise by breaking a third time and taking a one set lead.
became a fourth break of serve in six Radwanska service games early in
the second set, when Azarenka wound up and launched a thunderously
dismissive forehand return of serve from the backhand side.
It was a shot which not only gave her a 2-0 lead but made a fierce psychological statement.
game later, trailing 0-3, Radwanska called for her coach, Tomasz
Wiktorowski, and at least it gave her a brief chance to pause and
It was also followed by three successive holds of
serve, and sensible attempts to project ground strokes from positions
slightly further up the court.
But the damage had been done.
Azarenka continued the bombardment behind a heavily reliable serve, and never looked like dropping it.
She conceded only three points in the next three service games. She will be a tough act to better.