Victoria Azarenka was red hot in her second round match that gave her the win staying cool and collected at the Rogers Cup Wednesday night in Toronto. Her two set victory over Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic ended in a 6-2, 6-3 victory on centre court.
This was the seventh meeting between the two resilient players from Eastern Europe. The Czech has completely found her skills to work against Azarenka defeating her in two finals dating back to 2011, which marks their most recent interaction with one another. At present the scales were in favor of the Belorussian as Kvitova continues to play tennis despite having Mononucleosis. With her doctors giving her the green light to continue she would step on the court to battle back two different oppositions.
Whether she can do so would depend on her health and the recent strength of Azarenka who blew through Elina Svitolina Tuesday. As she looks to advance on in search of a higher rank, Azarenka would do whatever it took to break Kvitova of her dominance.
She opened the set with a two game sweep before Kvitova jumped on the board breaking the Belorussian on serve in Game Three. The Czech already had three unforced errors that had some to do with the wind but to keep with the pace of the ball. It suddenly vanished on her second serve of the match giving Azarenka a 40-0 lead. Azarenka put the game in her hands taking a 4-1 charge of the set.
During the break, Kvitova’s coach came out to give her some support as well as trying to calm her nerves. The game of tennis moves so quickly that a player’s nerve can’t be contained well. It was becoming clear as the Belorussian took another game for the taking. Azarenka played game seven flawlessly answering the call on Kvitova’s serve until an ace helped the Czech force deuce. On the break serve, Kvitova picked up another win on an unforced error into the net to stave off the end of the set for another game.
Azarenka would not let the set go any further as she pushed Kvitova to play some tough shots that despite winning on some it wasn’t going to save her. She was shown the door in the set that took 34 minutes to complete as the Belorussian had a 78 serve percentage with two aces. Kvitova’s demise in the set was 17 unforced errors that weren’t going to do the trick against the 6 foot Azarenka.
The second set made for a clean slate for the Czech to go on despite being down a set. She brushed off the thought and came out swinging landing great shots across the Azarenka giving her the first game. Azarenka answered with a game to tie and returns during her opponent’s serve. She lost a double break point chance but held the break to take the 2-1 lead in the set.
Azarenka was in control leading 3-1 over Kvitova who couldn’t find a break. It nearly came to her in Game Four where she pushed for deuce and played four solid breaks with Azarenka. The Czech couldn’t hold serve on the break losing her third straight that put the Belorussian two games from victory. On return of service in Game Six, Azarenka got a challenge from Kvitova playing much better on the volleys near the net. She would take the victory to cut the margin in half. The win was the start of the change of tide as she went on to win a second straight and come within a game of Azarenka.
Knowing the change was taking precedence on the court, the Belorussian put up the offense only to watch Kvitova answer with all her strength in the returns. She was fortunate to hold her off on deuce and sit leading 5-3 playing for the match. She made it look too easy getting into position for the match point where launched the ball in a wide open spot to end the match in 88 minutes.
Azarenka dropped to 57 percent on her serve landing just 8 of 13 and winning 25 of 48 on the return. “It’s been a long time since we had played each other so there was a little bit of getting used to her game,” Azarenka said to Sportsnet after the match. “She’s a hard hitter and doesn’t give you a lot of rhythm so I was just trying to stay in the moment and when I had my opportunity to stay aggressive.”
Azarenka moves into the round of 16 where she will face Sara Errani from Italy who is no easy task like Kvitova.