Victoria Azarenka Withdraws From Qatar Open Over injury

 

Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the Doha Open Friday ahead of her semi-final clash with Garbine Muguruza, blaming an injury the effects of which could be seen as she battled through her last-eight tie against Elina Svitolina. 

“I am very sorry to have to let you know that I have to withdraw from the semi-final here in Doha tonight,” Azarenka said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the pain in my back that I experienced during (Thursday’s) match has not gone away enough in order for me to be able to compete tonight.”

Azarenka, a two-time winner of the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, reached the quarters by seeing off Ukrainian top seed Svitolina, 6-2, 6-4.

But back pain dogged her effort and she visibly slowed during the second set.

“The pain didn’t really get any better. I’m pretty proud of the way I handled it mentally. I tried to approach it and focus on the things that I could do rather than the things that I couldn’t do,” she said after the match.

Muguruza will face either Petra Kvitova or Jessica Pegula in the final Saturday depending on the outcome of their semi-final clash.

-AFP

Osaka Beats Azarenka To Win US Open And Third Grand Slam

Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates with the trophy after winning her Women’s Singles final match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day Thirteen of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 12, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka came from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus to win the US Open on Saturday and clinch her third Grand Slam title.

Osaka, the fourth seed, overcame her unseeded opponent 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 inside a near-empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows.

It brought 22-year-old Osaka’s haul of tennis major trophies to three after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.

“I didn’t really enjoy that. It was a really tough match for me,” Osaka said following her 1hr 53min victory.

Azarenka, 31, sprinted to the first set in just 26 minutes, dominating Osaka with an 88 per cent success rate on her first serve.

The Japanese was uncharacteristically sloppy, hitting a whopping 13 unforced errors.

Azarenka then went 2-0 ahead in the second set before Osaka fought back to break her opponent’s serve twice and take a 4-3 lead.

The momentum had quickly swung in Osaka’s favour and she broke a third time to take the match to a deciding set.

“I just thought it would be very embarrassing to lose this in under an hour so I just have to try as hard as I can and stop having a really bad attitude,” said Osaka, explaining the turnaround.

Osaka enjoyed the first breakthrough of set three in game four when she broke Azarenka’s serve to take a 3-1 lead.

Azarenka then blew a golden opportunity to get back into the match, wasting three break points as Osaka recovered from 0-40 to hold for a 4-1 lead.

Azarenka saved four break points to make it 4-2 as she battled to keep the contest alive.

When she broke Osaka in game seven, the set was back on serve.

But Osaka immediately broke back after Azarenka pushed a forehand wide to leave herself the opportunity of serving for the match and title.

On Osaka’s second championship point, Azarenka found the net.

– ‘This Was Fun’ –

After touching racquets with her opponent, Osaka lay down in the middle of the court and looked up at the sky in celebration.

“I always see everyone sort of collapse after match point. But I always think you may injure yourself so I wanted to do it safely,” Osaka said.

The match was watched by just a few dozen people, mostly officials, journalists and event staff after the coronavirus pandemic forced the tournament to be held behind closed doors.

Osaka had walked onto the court wearing a mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old African-American boy who was shot dead by a white police officer in Cleveland, Ohio in 2014.

Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian heritage, wore different masks honoring victims of racial injustice and police brutality in each round of the tournament.

She also donned face coverings bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile.

Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, was playing in her first tennis major final since losing the 2013 US Open to Serena Williams.

The last few years of the former world number one’s career have been disrupted, firstly by injury then by a custody battle over her son, born in December 2016.

But she enjoyed a fairytale run in New York, clinching the Western & Southern title before reaching Saturday’s US Open final, where she lost for the third time.

“I want to thank my team for sticking with me, for believing in me,” Azarenka said.

“It’s been a long road of getting here, but this was fun,” she added.

Serena’s Quest For Record-Equaling 24th Grand Slam Ends After Falling To Azarenka

Serena Williams of the United States walks to her seat due to an injury in the third set during her Women’s Singles semifinal match against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day Eleven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

Victoria Azarenka came from behind to stun Serena Williams in a three-set thriller and reach the US Open final on Thursday.

The unseeded Belarusian fought back to overcome Williams, seeded third, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 56min under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Azarenka will now play Naomi Osaka of Japan in Saturday’s final.

It will be the former world number one’s first appearance in the final of a tennis major since Williams beat her in the final of the US Open in 2013.

“That’s my favorite number so I guess that’s meant to be,” Azarenka said of her seven-year wait to return to a Grand Slam singles final.

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity. I’m so grateful to be able to play such a champion in the semi-finals,” she added.

 

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus reacts in the third set during her Women’s Singles semifinal match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Eleven of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 10, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Two-time Grand Slam winner Azarenka had never beaten Williams before in a Grand Slam and she seemed to be heading for another agonizing loss after being hammered 6-1 in the first set.

But the 31-year-old turned the tide in set two, upping her service game and drastically reducing her unforced errors as she began to dictate lengthy rallies.

“I knew it’s never over until I have another chance,” said Azarenka.

The player from Belarus also suffered a heartbreaking loss to Williams in the 2012 US Open, when she served for the match at 5-3 in the third set only to lose 7-5.

Azarenka was determined that history would not repeat itself. Serving for the match, she hit a double fault before smashing her fastest serve of the night at 109 mph.

When Williams then challenged and lost an ace that was called in on the next point, it was game, set and match to Azarenka.

“I’ve been there before. Today was gonna be different,” Azarenka said.

Her last Slam title came at the 2013 Australian Open, when she retained the crown she had won a year earlier.

The 31-year-old is enjoying a fairytale run at the US Open after claiming last month’s Western and Southern Open tune-up event in New York.

Azarenka became a mother in December 2016. A custody battle over her son has disrupted her career in recent years, but she is currently experiencing a renaissance and is up to 27th in the world rankings.

Williams had been hoping to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

AFP

Serena Downs Azarenka To Reach Indian Wells Second Round

INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 08: Serena Williams of the United States celebrates her women’s singles second round match victory against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Day 5 of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 08, 2019 in Indian Wells, California. Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

Serena Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 in a battle of former world number ones on Friday to reach the second round at Indian Wells.

Williams, seeded 10th in her first tournament since a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open, needed two hours and seven minutes to get past her long-time rival.

She took her record against Azarenka to 18-4, although the Belarusian, now ranked 48th in the world, had triumphed in their most recent prior meeting in the 2016 final on the same Indian Wells stadium court.

READ ALSO: After 12 years, Fellaini Calls Time On Belgium Career

“It’s hard to play somebody you’re so close to,” Williams said. “It’s also invigorating.”

Williams advanced to a third-round meeting with another former world number one, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who beat American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-3.

AFP

Victoria Azarenka Ruled Out Of Wimbledon

Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon, serena williamsTwo-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka has been ruled out of Wimbledon with a knee injury.

The 26-year-old was seeded sixth for the tournament which begins on Monday.

The two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist has not played since retiring from her first-round match against Italian Karin Knapp at last month’s French Open.

The Belarusian’s withdrawal means five-time champion Venus Williams will move up into the top eight seeds.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been plagued by foot injuries in recent years.

Meanwhile, world number one, Serena Williams says she is looking forward to playing in this year’s Wimbledon championships, describing the event as special.

Serena, who has been confirmed as the top seed in the women’s singles is aiming to win her 22nd grand slam title.

She has also been speaking on the Rio 2016 Olympics and the dreaded Zika virus that has led to the withdrawals of some high profile athletes.

Indian Wells: Azarenka Defeats Serena

Indian wellsFormer world number one, Victoria Azarenka, took advantage of an error-prone display by Serena Williams to win her second BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells in California.

The 26-year-old Belarusian beat the American number one seed 6-4 6-4 under 90 minutes in front of a stunned crowd at the sun-baked Indian Wells tennis garden.

Azarenka broke the top-seeded American once in the opening set and twice in the second before wrapping up the victory.

Meanwhile, world number one Novak Djokovic produced a sublime form to clinch an unprecedented fifth men’s title at Indian Wells.

The Serb beat big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic with a 6-2 6-love in the men’s final.

The 28-year-old Serb broke his out-of-sorts opponent twice in the first set and three times in the second to wrap up victory in one hour 17 minutes on a blazing hot afternoon.

Serena Defeats Azarenka To Retain Brisbane International Title

World number one, Serena Williams, has started the year 2014 in fine style by successfully defending her Brisbane International title with a 6-4 7-5 win over second seed Victoria Azarenka.

This is Serena’s 14th win in 17 meetings with Azarenka, whom she beat in last year’s US Open final for her 17th Grand Slam.

The 32-year-old American, who won 11 tournaments in 2013, lost her serve twice in the second set but broke back three times to overcome her opponent in 98 minutes.

The 2013 French Open winner is a five-time champion in Melbourne but has not won the title since 2010.

The straight-sets defeat of Belarusian Azarenka, extends her run of successive victories to 22 and ensured she went through the tournament, in which she beat world number four Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, without dropping a set

The victory in Brisbane is the perfect start to the New Year for Serena after her remarkable achievements in 2013 where she won 78 of her 82 matches and had a career-best run of 34 consecutive wins.

 

Williams to face Azarenka in Brisbane final

Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane International on Saturday.

Serena Williams played erratically but still beat Maria Sharapova 6-2 7-6 (9-7) on Friday (January 3) to reach the final of the Brisbane International.

In a match that involved poor serving and high-quality groundstrokes in equal measure, Williams maintained her hold over Sharapova to set up a final showdown with second seed, Victoria Azarenka.

Williams’ semi-final victory over the world number four extended her winning streak against the Russian to 14 consecutive matches. Sharapova failed to take real advantage in a match comprising 10 breaks of serve.

Williams secured the first of the 10 in the fourth game and although Sharapova broke straight back, she lost her serve twice more as the American ran out a comfortable first set winner.

The Russian responded well to hold a 2-1 lead after three consecutive breaks of serve in the second set, then won the ensuing service game, but lost the next one to restore parity.

In the tiebreak, Williams’ groundstrokes gave her the advantage, but Sharapova saved one match point with a smash and the American needed three match points before sealing victory with an ace.

Serena praised her opponent, saying of the tiebreak: “Yes, it definitely could have gone either way, Maria was playing so well. It’s a wonder that she took some time off. But you definitely can’t tell. So, she gave me a really tough tiebreak and a tough match today.”

Azarenka defeated Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the second semi-final, although she, too, played erratically against the world number eight.

Serena Williams Wins Fifth US Open Title

Serena Williams repeated as U.S. Open women’s champion by holding off a battling Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5 6-7(6) 6-1 in a windblown final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.

Williams bounded in a series of joyous jumping jack leaps after Azarenka’s backhand sailed long on the second match point of a thrilling, two-hour 45-minute final that earned her a fifth U.S. Open singles title that took her total to 17 grand slams.

The big-hitting American, who turns 32 later this month, became the oldest U.S. Open women’s winner since tennis turned professional 45 years ago, eclipsing Australian Margaret Court, who was 31 years and 55 days when she won the title in 1973.

The triumph moved Williams to within one grand slam singles crown of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for a tie for fourth place on the all-time list behind Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19).

It had looked like it was going to be plain sailing for Williams after she won a difficult first set, boosted by a late break in the 11th game for a 6-5 lead and then served out a love game before racing to a 4-1 second-set lead.

Williams, who earlier looked confounded by the gusty wind that affected service tosses and the direction of bounces off groundstrokes and was muttering to herself between points, finally settled into a rhythm in the second set.

“The wind was unbelievable,” said the champion. “And it just got worse and worse and it never let up. But at this point you have to play under any circumstance.”

She claimed the 4-1 lead after Azarenka double-faulted three times in the fifth and her U.S. Open repeat looked a certainty as she begun to find her range on her imposing service game that saw her serve broken only twice in six previous matches.

But Azarenka was not ready to capitulate.

“I think it was raising from the first point, the tension, the battle, the determination,” the second seed said about the quality of the match. “It was really kind of like boiling the water. It felt from every point, it was raising the level.”

‘GREAT MATCH’

The Belarusian showed her fight and took advantage of a string of Williams errors to break right back for 4-2 and rode that momentum.

Twice Williams served for the match, at 5-4 and again at 6-5, but Azarenka rose up to break the American’s serve and force a tiebreaker.

Williams took a 3-1 lead but Azarenka won five of the next six points to seize a 6-4 advantage and sent the match to a third set when Williams belted a backhand long to lose it 8-6.

“I think I got a little uptight,” Williams said about squandering her chances. “I wasn’t playing smart tennis. (But) you have to keep fighting for everything.”

The third set stayed on serve until the fourth game when another double fault, her seventh of the match, sank Azarenka and handed Williams a 3-1 lead.

With the stadium crowd roaring their support for the home favorite, the American broke Azarenka two games later for good measure to make it 5-1 before she claimed victory when the Belarusian sent a backhand long on the second match point.

Williams blasted 36 winners in the match against 17 for Azarenka, and blasted nine aces against just two for the Belarusian, who won an impressive 10 of 15 points at the net when she stepped up the pressure on Williams.

“Victoria, you played unbelievable,” said Williams at the trophy ceremony.

“What a great match and what a great person. Vika is such a great opponent, she’s such a great fighter. It was never over until match point,” added Williams.

The top seed collected the $2.6 million top prize and pocketed an addition $1 million bonus for having won the U.S. Open run-up series of tournaments.

Azarenka said she had been beaten by the better player.

“It is a tough loss. But the best player deserves the win today. I gave it all again this year,” said Azarenka, who lost 7-5 in the third set to Williams in last year’s final.

“We gave it everything we got.”

In the men’s doubles final, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek were convincing winners over Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.

The India-Czech pairing of Paes and Stepanek dominated the title match to record a 6-1 6-3 victory over their Austria-Brazil rivals.

Paes, 40, won his third U.S. Open doubles title and eighth major doubles title of his career. It was Stepanek’s second major doubles win after claiming the 2012 Australian Open with Paes.

Stepanek, 34, said the win enabled them to qualify for an important goal.

“There is one thing we would like to achieve, and that’s winning the world championships at the end of the year, because that’s the trophy which is missing in Leander’s showcase,” the Czech said.

Croatia made a clean sweep of the junior singles titles when Borna Coric and Ana Konjuh posted victories at Flushing Meadows.

The fourth-seeded Coric beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis 3-6 6-3 6-1 in the boys’ final before second-seeded Konjuh beat U.S. wildcard Tornado Black 3-6 6-4 7-6(6).

Coric, 16, said the U.S. Open would be his last junior tournament.

“I’ve won the slam” he said about his Sunday victory. “That was the goal at the beginning of the year.”

Coric has been named to Croatia’s Davis Cup team for the tie next week against Britain at Umag.

US Open: Women’s final postponed to Sunday

Saturday’s US Open women’s singles final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka has been postponed until Sunday because of forecast heavy rains and storms in New York, organisers announced.

“The weather forecast for this evening is calling for storms with heavy rain and high winds,” said a tournament spokesman.

“Due to the severe weather forecast, session 25 featuring the Women’s Singles Final will be postponed until Sunday, September 9, 2012. We will confirm the start time for the Women’s Final by 7:00 p.m. ET (2300GMT) this evening.”

Play on Saturday had already been delayed by 90 minutes following heavy rain and a tornado warning which had been issued for the New York area.