Victoria Azarenka found her leg to be in too much pain to go on playing. Though she was up a full set, her will to play vanished in the second set giving Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova the victory 1-6, 3-0 on Stadium Three at the Linder Family Center Thursday afternoon. It became the third time that she made the quarterfinals in Cincinnati where she seems to have success of all kinds.
The red hot Belorussian continued her path of success meeting against the Russian for a sixth time in their careers. Azarenka has won the last four straight over Pavlyuchenkova that included a 2013 win at the Madrid Masters. The 2013 champion of the Cincinnati tournament looked more than ready to capture a second with the halfway point in view. In her victory Wednesday over Caroline Wozniacki, the 26 year old kept the heat on to make her stance for tennis glory once again.
Pavlyuchenkova has shown tremendous struggle in her fights so far, pushing each match to its brink before gaining the huge lead to win. Though she lost in the final of the Citi Open to Sloane Stephens, the Russian still knows she can potential find her way to an upset at any moment.
The idea was soon tossed out of her head as the Belorussian took the opening lead and didn’t look back. By the end of the third game, Azarenka was half way to the set winning games by two points or more. Her fourth victory didn’t come so easy as she dealt with a challenge from Pavlyuchenkova that led to the match’s first deuce draw.
The fight was on from the Russian as she pressed the fifth game only to watch her hard work fade away when the ball hit over the net and dropped just outside the in line. On a break, Pavlyuchenkova called for her coach who came in at her most desperate moment. The pep talk worked out as she won on her serve holding Azarenka to a point before snapping her winning streak.
The Belorussian was still on point for the set and with her in control of the ball the set would find its end. On another chance to scratch out a game, Azarenka denied her the opportunity closing the set to end the first in 41 minutes.
Pavlyuchenkova took a long talk with her coach telling her to change the game to play her way. The effort would be hard, but with signs showing pain in Azarenka’s taped right leg the set might just fall her way if done correctly. Azarenka requested a medical time out before the start of the second set for treatment.
It didn’t seem to help her as she was losing game after game to Pavlyuchenkova who indeed kept the words of her coach to heart. She took the will out of Azarenka who called it quits after three games of the complaining that her leg was no better to continue competing. It was finished just two minutes short of an hour with the winner not gaining enough time to show improvement. She was blasted away in the first set to only play just 15 minutes of tennis where she was the one leading.
“I feel really lucky,” Pavlyuchenkova said after the match. “I didn’t expect that at all and I’m happy that I’m in the quarters. Pavlyuchenkova has been to the quarters twice in the past and will try to go further once again. “I’m not really happy with the way the match went, but I take it as it is I guess.”
With another chance at playing for a second chance at the semifinals, Pavlyuchenkova will meet against the winner between Simona Halep and Andrea Petkovic Friday.