Victoria Azarenka wipes out Elina Svitolina; Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari also through to Australian Open last 16
Victoria Azarenka took just 67 minutes to knock out two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina in the third round. The 34-year-old is yet to drop a set at this year’s Grand Slam in Melbourne and has only conceded nine games in total across three matches. Barbora Krejcikova and Maria Sakkari are also through. Stream the 2022 Australian Open live and on demand on discovery+.
Highlights: Azarenka drops just two games in win over Svitolina
Azarenka said on-court afterwards: "I had to try and stay on top of Svitolina as much as possible and not let her breathe. That was my goal before the match and I feel I executed that well."
Discussing being a parent on the tour, Azarenka said: "Not everybody has an opportunity to bring their kid to work so for my son to be inspired by what I do is priceless to me. I don't like to use the words 'role model' but I try to understand I am an example in front of his eyes and try to be the best I can.
"I know that people might come at me and talk about my bad attitude at some point in life, that is true and I can only do better, but my son helps me to be better so I am grateful for that."
'What a story' - Azarenka's kind words for Alcott after beating Svitolina
Svitolina looked almost tearful at one point in a first set where she made 13 unforced errors and double faulted three times. Azarenka simply overpowered her from the baseline and reeled off six games in a row.
The second set was nearly as comfortable as Azarenka, who entered the vaccine debate after her second round win on Wednesday, broke the Svitolina serve in the opening game.
Svitolina let out a wry smile when she got a game on the scoreboard 35 minutes into the match to make it 2-1 and produced a break point to level the second set, but Azarenka rescued it before going on to break the Svitolina serve again to move into an unassailable 5-2 lead.
After a mammoth ten minute game, Azarenka sealed the victory on her sixth match point as Svitolina fired a forehand into the net.
KREJCIKOVA GETS TIME VIOLATION BUT SURVIVES
Highlights: Krejcikova beats Ostapenko in battle of former Grand Slam champions
Barbora Krejcikova will play Azarenka in the last 16 after coming from a set and a break down to beat Jelena Ostapenko 2-6 6-4 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.
In a battle between two French Open champions, it was the 2021 winner who came out on top in two hours and 12 minutes to move through to the last 16 of the Australian Open for the first time in her career.
"Today's match was very tough and very difficult," Krejcikova said on-court afterwards.
"I had to really dig deep to get this result. I'm really happy and pleased. I'm proud of myself. I'm never going to leave without a fight and I'm really happy that I'm able to show that on court.
"I was just fighting. She was playing really well just smashing shots and hitting winners so it was really difficult.
"I was really happy that I found the fighting spirit in me and was going for every single ball. I told myself to keep going and playing and that I want to stay here and play on Rod Laver Arena. It's my dream so just try and make it as long as I can."
'I was just fighting' - Krejcikova on her comeback win against Ostapenko
The No 4 seed was in real trouble in the first set with the Czech player struggling to contain the Latvian’s power from the baseline. Ostapenko went a break up to make it 3-1 before taking the set in 41 minutes.
It looked as though Ostapenko was on course to win the match as she hit 14 winners and made only eight unforced errors in the second set, but Krejcikova held in there and fought back from 3-1 down to win it 6-4.
After an eight minute break before the final set decider, when Krejcikova was given a time violation despite protesting that she needed to tend to her broken necklace, she came out firing and broke in the first game of the third set thanks to a fierce forehand return of serve.
Ostapenko’s frustration was evident and she failed to convert any of her three break point opportunities to level which ultimately ensured Krejcikova’s progression to the second week.
SAKKARI TO PLAY PEGULA IN LAST 16
Highlights: Fifth seed Sakkari storms past Kudermetova in Melbourne
Maria Sakkari is through to the second week of the Australian Open after comfortably beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 6-1 on John Cain Arena.
Sakkari took one hour and 12 minutes to beat the Russian No 28 seed and will play USA’s Jessica Pegula, who beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 7-6(3) 6-2, in the last-16.
The 26-year-old is yet to drop a set and equals her best ever Australian Open result by reaching the fourth round.
“Not dropping a set I guess is quite decent,” she said after the match.
“I’m enjoying myself and this crowd. It’s like playing at home so it feels great to be here. I feel like I have extra strength when I have them with me.
“They support me no matter what and I think opponents don’t like it. But I like it and I really want to thank the Greeks and everyone who is coming out here.
“Jessica is a very dangerous opponent and we are both in the second week of the Australian Open so we’re going to try our best, enjoy our time here and whoever plays better is going to win.”
Sakkari hard to battle hard to grind out the first set in 52 minutes, coming from 3-1 down before reeling off the following six games.
The Greek No 5 seed carried that momentum into the third set as she raced into a 2-0 lead. Kudermetova clawed back a game, but she continued to make plenty of unforced errors and Sakkari capitalised by winning the remaining four games.
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