A ruthless start to the match from Victoria Azarenka ended with some effort to be victorious at the Brisbane International Friday night. Her 6-0,6-3 win over Samantha Crawford at Pat Rafter Arena moved the Belorussian in a huge final match to start the new tennis season.
Both faced each other for the first time in their careers. While one has been storming through the tournament with such ferocious speed on service, the other has been having a miraculous start to the 2016 season. The 20 year old from Atlanta has been a new force in Brisbane after taking down some of the best in the late stages of the bracket.
Her first victory over Belinda Bencic had many impressed by her skills to fight on every game played. When she took down Andrea Petkovic with a stunning sweep in the second set, many eyes drew their attention to the young lady ranked 142nd in the world.
For the 22nd ranked Belorussian, her actions on court in the past few games have been exactly what many fans hoped to see. After making an admiring comeback from injury, the 26 year old had her game on lock defeating non-ranked players on her path to eliminating U.S. Open finalist Roberta Vinci in straight sets. With her skills at their highest potential and carrying a dangerous serve, the American needed to be quick on her toes and swift with her swing to return the ball.
Azarenka seized control of the match from Crawford who opened service but didn’t have much to show early on. When it was time for the Belorussian to serve, she won the game easily with drives across the net to seal the love service against Crawford. The American’s second opportunity on serve delivered some progress but not enough to stop the former number one to move up 3-0.
Crawford almost had a break in the fourth game drawing Azarenka into deuce but despite all her attempts to stay strong against her opponents serve, she was blocked from gaining a game. Azarenka up 5-0 as the unforced errors were clearly getting the best of the young American. She already had a dozen unforced errors on court, which only made things easier for Azarenka. The sixth game was nothing short of a formality for the Belorussian as she went landed a triple set point finishing the sweep in 23 minutes.
Crawford served to open the second and made everything of it landing three aces across court. Getting that going in her favor helped get her on the board to prevent the embarrassing skunk in straight sets. The Belorussian evened things up with her usual show of strength where a smart challenge on a ball landing in for the Belorussian helped her open the gap.
It was quickly 4-1 with Azarenka doing well scoring break points while watching Crawford suffer with the unforced errors. Despite the absolute dominance that Azarenka was performing on court, the American kept herself together rolling with the punches, as her defeat got closer. An unusual occurrence on Azarenka’s game had her down 0-40 with a double fault and two unforced errors. It was too late to recover from it giving Crawford a second win cutting the margin in half.
It looked as if Crawford had something going on serve in the seventh winning two backhanded winners. She saved herself from losing hold forcing deuce three times but falling off the advantage with a third double fault. It helped Azarenka where her fourth break point gave her the victory to serve for the match in the eighth. The former number one had to deal with some adversity from Crawford but as she served for the match, a ball landing inches from victory forced deuce for a second time giving the American life. She won on two terrific shots putting her back by two games.
The danger was still in Azarenka’s hands but she had to be careful to not let Crawford get out of hand. Two long shots from the American gave Azarenka a second match point where she won it on a great response on a drop shot to put a cap on it in 68 minutes. She held her serve percentage about 70 percent committing six unforced errors and landing just ten winners. The boost for points came on her opponent’s woes as she served at 44 percent with 31 unforced errors.
With plenty to be proud of, the American will likely see a jump in the rankings while the Belorussian moved into the final where she would face Angelique Kerber for the season’s first title Saturday.