Victoria Azarenka stunned Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the
Now 33 and a mother — she walked out into Rod Laver Arena wearing a jersey from
her 7-year-old son’s favorite soccer team, Paris Saint-Germain — Azarenka, who is
from Belarus, delivered big shot after big shot, raced to a 3-0 lead in 12 minutes, and
never really let the No. 3-seeded Pegula, a good friend, get into the match.
“Leo doesn’t really care so much that I’m playing here,” Azarenka said with a laugh.
“He worries more about his football and when are we going to go play again.
Obviously, he is watching some matches, but he definitely wants his mom to be
home. So a few more days here, and I’ll be back.”
Might make the trip with a trophy in tow if she keeps playing like this.
Even when Pegula did grab a game, she needed to work so hard for it, erasing six
break points before finally holding serve to get on the board. It was a far cry from the
sort of success Pegula had earlier in the tournament: She entered Tuesday having
dropped zero sets and 18 games across four previous matches.
The No. 24-seeded Azarenka’s semifinal opponent will be No. 22 Elena Rybakina, the
reigning Wimbledon champion, who defeated 2017 French Open champion Jelena
Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 on Tuesday afternoon. That match was delayed for about 20
minutes in the first set while the main stadium’s retractable roof was shut because of
Rybakina hit 11 aces to take her tournament-leading total to 35.
“I got all the experience at Wimbledon, and it’s helping me now this time, here in
Australia, and I know what to expect,” said Rybakina, who was born in Moscow but
has represented Kazakhstan since 2018 because it offered to fund her tennis career.
“For sure, it’s just easier in this case.”
In men’s action, Karen Khachanov reached his first semifinal at Melbourne Park —
and made his second consecutive trip to the final four at a Grand Slam tournament,
following his run at the U.S. Open last September — when 22-year-old American
Sebastian Korda stopped playing in the third set because of an injured right wrist.
Khachanov will face either No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece or unseeded Jiri
Lehecka of the Czech Republic for a berth in the men’s final. Tsitsipas and Lehecka
were scheduled to play their quarterfinal Tuesday night.