Thursday September 6, 2012
Azarenka rolls on
Victoria Azarenka survived a ferocious comeback from defending champion Sam Stosur to reach the US Open semi-finals on Tuesday, as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac played havoc with the schedule and left organisers juggling with a backlog.
Only two of six singles matches were completed due to rain, forcing tournament officials to reschedule the remaining four in the hope they can finish the year’s last Grand Slam on time.
However, the prospects are bleak with more showers forecast in the ‘Big Apple’ for the rest of the week.
Azarenka traded blows with Stosur for nearly two and a half hours on a blustery Arthur Ashe Stadium court to beat the foul weather and her opponent in a 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 thriller.
The world number one will play either Maria Sharapova or Marion Bartoli in tomorrow’s semi-finals and will remain atop the world rankings regardless of how much further she goes in the tournament.
“It means a lot, but it’s nothing like lifting a trophy,” said Azarenka. “I definitely don’t want to stop. I really want it bad.”
The only other match that went the distance saw Spain’s David Ferrer defeat Richard Gasquet of France 7-5, 7-6, 6-4 in the fourth round.
The match took almost eight hours to complete as the heavens opened up and drenched Flushing Meadows. Three other men’s fourth round matches were suspended in the first set.
,Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic was leading Stanislas Wawrinka 2-0, while 2003 winner Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, had played one point of their tibreaker. Janko Tipsarevic was 5-2 up against Philipp Kohlschreiber.
In the women’s quarter-finals, Bartoli grabbed an early 4-0 lead against Sharapova, one of six former US Open champions still in contention.
Azarenka, who won her first grand slam title at this year’s Australian Open, had won her previous six matches against Stosur in straight sets and seemed to be cruising to another easy win when she romped through the opening set in just 30 minutes.
But Stosur, who upset Serena Williams in last year’s final, found her rhythm after an initial 75-minute delay, landing more of her booming first serves and hitting her groundstrokes deeper and with greater conviction.
The seventh-seed won the second set then recovered from a break down in the third to draw level and force a deciding tiebreak, which Azarenka won 7-5 after blowing a 4-0 lead.
“I enjoy the fight,” said Azarenka. “I enjoy the struggle, that pain that we go through, that incredible moment that you feel relieved after you know you gave it all in every point you had.”
Azarenka’s opponent in the last four has yet to be decided after rain played havoc with the day’s schedule.
At least 30 people were killed by Hurricane Isaac during its deadly trek across the Caribbean, Louisiana and Mississippi and while the storm has weakened, rain and flash floods have been forecast for the US East Coast where the US Open is played.
In each of the last four years, the tournament has stretched into a third week because of thunderstorms, triggering an annual debate and complaints from players and spectators over why there is still no roof over the courts. — Reuters
Fourth round: David Ferrer (Spa) bt Richard Gasquet (Fra) 7-5, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4
Suspended due to rain: Andy Roddick (US) leads Juan Martin Del Potro (Arg) 6-6 (1-0); Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) leads Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) 5-2; Novak Djokovic (Srb) leads Stanislas Wawrinka (Sui) 2-0
Quarter-finals: Victoria Azarenka (Blr) bt Samantha Stosur (Aus) 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5)
Suspended due to rain: Marion Bartoli (Fra) leads Maria Sharapova (Rus) 4-0.