Victoria Azarenka performed a near flawless match at the Australian Open Saturday. Her 6-1, 6-1 win over Naomi Osaka in the third round at Rod Laver Arena secured her to the halfway point of the two week tournament.
The Belorussian faces a hard hitting opponent but this time it wasn’t Serena Williams. Her third round opponent happened to be an year old whose power shot knocked out five straight players in straight sets with her most recent win against 21st seeded Elina Svitolina. Her big swing had the ball screaming across the court at an average speed of 108 mph.
Azarenka knows the experience of playing against fast shots but with her facing Osaka for the first time, a void of caution would be taken by the former number one. So far the two time winner at Melbourne Park hasn’t been through any big problems through her last two wins, but all that could change if her actions on court are answered far better by the Japanese teen.
The first game was taken by Osaka as Azarenka’s serve looked a little rusty giving the teen her first triple break. She brushed it off to win the next game scoring the game point after a second chance at the break. She began to settle in for the long haul moving deep into the court to counter Osaka’s returns when the time came to strike.
Osaka tried to get her serve into motion but the former number on was there to counteract the teen’s shot that led to a 3-1 score for Azarenka. The Belorussian kept the heat on the Japanese teen letting her learn a thing or two take serve leading 5-1. In typical Azarenka fashion, she took her serve seriously and won a flawless love service with a spike across the net to put the first set to bed in 27 minutes.
Osaka continued to get rocked by Azarenka as she won her seventh consecutive game on the break. She got her eighth but the teen had enough of being dominated that her second attempt on the serve, she battled with Azarenka to the point of playing on deuce. With a quick switch on the return, Osaka got the game winner to prevent the bagel. It would be her last win of the match as the Belorussian completely ran away with the set and finished things off in under a half hour’s time.
She maintained a 74 percent service rate against Osaka who had very little opportunities to fight back. She won 28 of the 81 points scored between the two indicating that her power was overshadowed by a much more dominating force. “I’m glad I stayed focused and I stayed through,” Azarenka said about her game. When asked about her opponent’s will to fight, the Belorussian had good things to stay despite beating her severely. “She looks like she’s gonna have a good future and play a lot of Grand Slams.”
While the Japanese teen enjoys a solid run at the Australian Open, Azarenka moves into the round of 16 where she’ll face Czech star Barbora Strycova who pulled off a stunning victory over third seeded Garbine Muguruza earlier in the day. It would be the first time all week that the Belorussian would face a forceful player that would not go down easily.