US Open: Victoria Azarenka battles past Ana Ivanovic
Last Updated: September 4, 2013 12:31am
Victoria Azarenka (left): won on her fourth match point
World No 2 Victoria Azarenka was made to battle every step of the way by Ana Ivanovic in their fourth round clash before coming through 4-6 6-3 6-4 in an error-strewn match.
The Belarussian dropped the opening set for the second match in a row but fought her way back to win in more than two gruelling hours on a windy Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
Azarenka had her serve broken seven times and served nine double faults, while Serbia's Ivanovic lost nine of her service games and made eight doubles.
The match was still in the balance with the players locked at 3-3 in the deciding set when last year's finalist Azarenka seized control.
She held her own service game then broke Ivanovic again when the former world No 1 sent a backhand wide.
Azarenka squandered two match points on her own serve before a pumped-up Ivanovic broke back, but then finally closed out the match in the following game on her fourth match point when the Serbian dumped a backhand into the net.
"Ana just came out firing, she played amazing tennis in the first set ... ripping winners and serving great," Azarenka said in a courtside interview. "I really had to wake up in the second set.
"In the second set, I felt I was determined, more focused and taking more opportunities.
"The match points were pretty bad," Azarenka added. "I really didn't go for my shots, I kept waiting for mistakes and something to happen."
Ivanovic has made just one grand slam quarter-final - here last year - since her victory at Roland Garros five years ago.
Azarenka, meanwhile, remains a firm favourite to repeat last year's run to the final, when she lost to Serena Williams, with Daniela Hantuchova, Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta the other players left in her half.
Azarenka's next opponent is unseeded Slovakian Hantuchova, who beat American wildcard Alison Riske on Monday to reach her first quarter-final at Flushing Meadows in over a decade.
In Tuesday's other afternoon women's match, Chinese fifth seed Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion, advanced to the US Open semi-finals for the first time with a 6-4 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 victory over Russian 24th seed Ekaterina Makarova.
"I'm so happy," Li said. "After losing the second set I was a little disappointed because I was 4-2 up in the tie-breaker, but I told myself point by point to try my best on the court."
Li reached a final-four showdown against the winner of a later match between 16-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and Spanish 18th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who has never won a WTA title.
"I will lie down in bed and take some chips and watch," Li said.
The Chinese star hit 44 winners to only 15 from Makarova, who upset Williams in last year's Australian Open fourth round but had lost all her previous three meeting with Li.
Li added that her nerves kept her from being more aggressive and coming to the net more. "I was so nervous," she said. "I wish I could do it more in the next round."
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