The two-time Australian Open champion, now ranked 24th in the world, overcame one of the most consistent players and favorite on the women’s tour over the past few seasons to beat Pegola 6-4 6-1. So left the years behind. Just one hour and 37 minutes.
It marked Azarenka’s best performance in Melbourne since she last won the second of her two Australian Opens in 2013 and her second Grand Slam semifinal since 2020.
For Pegula, who is still waiting to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final, her loss will have a lot to think about, especially as she won just one game in the second set.
“It hurts to beat her because I always want her to do well,” Azarenka said in her post-match interview. “But I know I need to play my best tennis because he’s very consistent. We had a lot of rallies … I just had to stay there and take chances.
“I’m very proud that I executed my game plan in the truest sense and to reach another Grand Slam semi-final is amazing.
“My tennis wasn’t bad last year but I wasn’t there mentally. I played with a lot of fear and anxiety – it’s hard to make the right decision when you’re nervous and hesitant so I took it upon myself in the off-season. Tried to advance.
“When you have great success, sometimes you get conservative to try new things, so this season I was like, I’m going to try new things, keep my head down and work hard. Will.”
More to follow…