January 22, (THEWILL) – Victoria Azarenka has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open after a hard-fought 4-6 6-1 6-4 victory over Lin Zhu, at Rod Laver Arena.
The two-time Australian Open winner had to dig deep against an unheralded opponent, whose best previous showing at a Grand Slam was the second round. After a long wait due to the over four-hour battle between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner, which had gone on beforehand at Rod Laver Arena, the two players emerged towards midnight in what were rapidly cooling conditions.
Azarenka remained in her long-sleeved top as play began, and her opponent seemed to catch her cold as Zhu raced into an early 2-0 lead, breaking in the very first game. However, Azarenka brought it back and eventually secured her passage to the quarter-finals with a hard-fought victory.
Zhu held her nerve to seal the first set but Azarenka hit back, bulldozing through the second, winning six of the seven games played, to set up a decider. The deciding set opened with six consecutive breaks of serve, followed by two holds to love before the Belarusian secured the decisive break in the ninth game and served it out.
In post-match comments, Azarenka said: “I feel so relieved. It was two hours and 40 minutes of complete pressure, point by point, momentum shifts. There was everything in this match.”
Azarenka will face Jessica Pegula, in the quarter-finals as she retains her hopes of another Australian Open trophy.
About the Author
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.